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8.2 magnitude earthquake claims five lives in Chile, disaster declared

Santiago: Chile has declared three northern regions hit by a 8.2 magnitude earthquake to be disaster areas.

Chile earthquake
Locals sit on the street following a tsunami alert after a powerful 8.0-magnitude earthearthquake hit off Chile's Pacific coast, on April 1, 2014. Pic: AFP

A magnitude-8.2 earthearthquake struck off Chile's coast, Wednesday, triggering warnings of Tsunami for all of Latin America's Pacific coast, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. There was no immediate report of any damage.

According to the USGS, the earthquake, centred 86km (56 miles) north-west of the mining area of Iquique, is very shallow, only 10km below the seabed, which would have made it feel stronger, BBC reported citing the USGS.

The South American country of Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world. The nation is a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Chile borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south.

Meanwhile, Chilean authorities used television to order the evacuation of coastal areas, urging citizens to escape speedily.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, which said the coasts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were all at risk of a tsunam, warned of waves of up to 1.92m (6.3 feet) could have struck near the town of Pisagua, Chile, within 44 minutes of the earthquake.

The USGS said a earthquake of this force had the power to generate a "destructive tsunami" for coastlines.

Chilean authorities, however, reportedly registered the earthquake as 7.9 magnitude.

In 2010, central and southern areas of Chile had been hit by a powerful earthearthquake of 8.8 magnitude, followed by a tsunami that devastated scores of towns in February 2010.

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