March 11th, 2010
02:07 PM ET

Chile leader: 'Significant damage' in Rancagua

A USGS map shows the area where a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit in Chile Thursday.

[Updated 2:07 p.m.] Rancagua Mayor Eduardo Soto said that no fatalities were immediately reported and that the biggest worry was damage to homes, CNN Chile reported.

[Updated 1:24 p.m.] The central Chilean city of Rancagua was affected by today's earthquakes newly inaugurated president, Sebastian Pinera said Thursday.

"There is significant damage in Rancagua," the new president said. "We're going to send the necessary armed forces to guarantee citizens' safety."

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Pinera said Thursday afternoon he will declare the area a catastrophe zone.

The country's national emergency authorities also put in place a tsunami alert for the coastal area near where several earthquakes hit.

"I don't want to alarm anyone, [the alert] is solely precautionary, but we have to take precautions when there are human lives at risk," Pinera said.

[Updated 11:35 a.m.] The USGS has downgraded the magnitude of the temblors that hit Chile today - saying that a 6.9 magnitude hit, followed by 6.7 and 6.0 magnitude quakes.

Two additional aftershocks were reported: a 5.4 magnitude and a 4.9 magnitude, in the same region of Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile, near the coast.

[Updated 10:43 a.m.] Three temblors rattled Chile today - a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, followed 16 minutes later by a 6.9 magnitude quake, and then a 6.0 magnitude aftershock 11 minutes after that, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

They were the strongest aftershocks to rattle Chile since a February 27 earthquake on the country's west coast that toppled buildings and spawned a tsunami, killing several hundred people.

[Updated 10:22 a.m.] Rolando Sanchez, President of CNN Chile, says the 7.2 magnitude earthquake could be felt strongly in the newsroom in Santiago, Chile.

"It was very, very strong," he said. "It went on for a good 45 seconds."

Sanchez said the felt about four aftershocks earlier in the day, but none as intense or lasting as long as the 7.2 magnitude quake. Sanchez said some people were running and others were evacuating.

"We also have information from our crews where the inauguration is taking place that they're evacuating people around the main government building on the outside asking them to move away and move to higher ground, although the inauguration itself is continuing," Sanchez said.

[Updated 10:07 a.m.] The 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the ground near the region of Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, near the Chilean coast. It struck just as Chile prepared to inaugurate a new president, Sebastian Pinera.

The epicenter was about 95 miles (152 km) south-southwest of the capital, Santiago, and about 90 miles (145 km) away from Valparasio, where Pinera was to be inaugurated. Television footage showed the inauguration proceeding without a hitch.

The quake was almost 22 miles deep and centered 95 miles southwest of Santiago, according to USGS.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement that "a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected" and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii.

[Posted at 9:54 a.m.] An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 has struck south of Santiago, Chile, the United States Geological Survey reports.

This story is currently developing. We'll bring you the latest information from Chile as soon as we get it.

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Filed under: Earthquake
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Leah Y

    Prayers go out to everyone in Chile.

    March 11, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |

    I just spoke to my husband who is currently in Valparasio, he was at a market and everyone was in a moment of panic. There are now warning of a tsunami out for Vina del mar.

    March 11, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. Christofer Vicencio

    Well i was at the eighth floor in my house, it was strong!!! now there are a tsunami alert for IV region to X Region!

    everyone is evacuating to the hills

    March 11, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  4. Judy Marie Santiago

    God bless Chile. Let us pray for the Filipinos in there. And for the safety of everyone. Lord have mercy on us.

    March 11, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dj-T3[H

    registred aftershocks everyday , in the day of today have 5 aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 / 3.1 / 4.0 / 4.8 / 7.2 grades in richter scale...

    March 11, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dj-T3[H

    correction as 5 one more of 6.9 in the richter scale

    March 11, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. desert voice

    God help the people of Chile! They are good people!

    March 11, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Paul Legros

    This is almost surreal! Let's hope this is the last one. I'm from Canada and was in Santiago on the 11th floor at the Kennedy Hotel when the 8.3 earthquake struck on February 27th. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    March 11, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lorena

    I am Chilean and we have an alert of tsunami from the fifth one up to the tenth region.

    Thanks for your concern.

    March 11, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. apompei

    Our prayers to all people in Chile.I hope it was not strong as the last !

    March 11, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. luis r

    Here in Chile we are pretty tired of all anxiety that each of these movements cause, add to the fact that we never know if this is another big one or another small one (i believe we have felt over 100 shivers since the big one), you can understand that they wear you down.

    People are rightly scared and always on the look out.

    Since the last one this morning things have calmed down, FOR NOW.


    March 11, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. JPM

    I'm on the way to Valparaiso, Chile – by sea – is there any REAL tsunami Alert?

    March 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. insic

    Oh My GOD, Help them.

    March 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steffanie

    Sending love to all of you there!

    March 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Canvasman

    I wonder when the big one is going to hit another US city. It seems that there have been more big ones lately.

    March 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
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