CNN reporting at least 78 dead at this point.
A massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, killing at least 78 people, producing powerful aftershocks and triggering a tsunami.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located off the coast in Maule, near the city of Concepcion, 212 miles (341 kilometers) from the capital of Santiago. The quake struck at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. ET).
Concepcion is Chile’s second-largest city, with a population of 200,000. There are reports of collapsed buildings in Santiago. The quake was felt in several Chilean towns and in parts of Argentina as well. Some buildings in Buenos Aires were evacuated.
This area has a history of powerful earthquakes.
Lying along the mountainous Andean coast, Chile is accustomed to earthquakes. The largest earthquake ever recorded struck the same area as Saturday’s quake on May 22, 1960. That quake, which registered a magnitude 9.5, killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless. The tsunami that it caused killed people in Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines and caused damage to the West Coast of the United States.
From NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center which has 12 warnings/updates out from this event:
A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR
CHILE / PERU / ECUADOR / COLOMBIA / ANTARCTICA / PANAMA / COSTA RICA / NICARAGUA / PITCAIRN / HONDURAS / EL SALVADOR / GUATEMALA / FR. POLYNESIA / MEXICO / COOK ISLANDS / KIRIBATI / KERMADEC IS / NIUE / NEW ZEALAND / TONGA / AMERICAN SAMOA /
SAMOA / JARVIS IS. / WALLIS-FUTUNA / TOKELAU / FIJI / AUSTRALIA / HAWAII / PALMYRA IS. / TUVALU / VANUATU / HOWLAND-BAKER / NEW CALEDONIA / JOHNSTON IS. / SOLOMON IS. / NAURU / MARSHALL IS. / MIDWAY IS. / KOSRAE / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / POHNPEI / WAKE IS. / CHUUK / RUSSIA / MARCUS IS. / INDONESIA /
N. MARIANAS / GUAM / YAP / BELAU / JAPAN / PHILIPPINES / CHINESE TAIPEI
AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS
ORIGIN TIME – 0634Z 27 FEB 2010
COORDINATES – 36.1 SOUTH 72.6 WEST
DEPTH – 55 KM
LOCATION – NEAR COAST OF CENTRAL CHILE
MAGNITUDE – 8.8
SEA LEVEL READINGS CONFIRM THAT A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED WHICH COULD CAUSE WIDESPREAD DAMAGE. AUTHORITIES SHOULD TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION IN RESPONSE TO THIS THREAT.
A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF WAVES AND THE FIRST WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST. TSUNAMI WAVE HEIGHTS CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND CAN VARY SIGNIFICANTLY ALONG A COAST DUE TO LOCAL EFFECTS. THE TIME FROM
ONE TSUNAMI WAVE TO THE NEXT CAN BE FIVE MINUTES TO AN HOUR, AND THE THREAT CAN CONTINUE FOR MANY HOURS AS MULTIPLE WAVES ARRIVE.
FOR ALL AREAS – WHEN NO MAJOR WAVES ARE OBSERVED FOR TWO HOURS AFTER THE ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL OR DAMAGING WAVES HAVE NOT OCCURRED FOR AT LEAST TWO HOURS THEN LOCAL AUTHORITIES CAN ASSUME THE THREAT IS PASSED. DANGER TO BOATS AND COASTAL STRUCTURES CAN CONTINUE FOR SEVERAL HOURS DUE TO RAPID CURRENTS. AS LOCAL CONDITIONS CAN CAUSE A WIDE VARIATION IN TSUNAMI WAVE ACTION THE ALL CLEAR DETERMINATION MUST BE MADE BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES.
BULLETINS WILL BE ISSUED HOURLY OR SOONER IF CONDITIONS WARRANT.THE TSUNAMI WARNING WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE PRODUCTS FOR ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA…WASHINGTON…OREGON…CALIFORNIA.
Hearing from CNN (speaking w/a local meteorologist from KITV) from right now that it is 2:40 am local in Hawaii; officials are planning on sounding the evacuation sirens at 6am local time.