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A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.2 struck off the coast of Chile tonight, strong enough to be felt nearly 300 miles away in the Bolivian capital, and triggering a small tsunami.
 
Five people are confirmed dead - four men and one woman, Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said. The victims died from either cardiac arrest or falling debris.
 
The quake, which was centered 61 miles west-northwest of Iquique, and was 6.21 miles deep, was initially measured at 8.0, but was later upgraded, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
 
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a six-foot tsunami hit Pisagua, Chile, at 8:04 p.m. ET. There was some damage reported on roads linking northern towns between Iquique and Alto Auspicio.
A tsunami warning for countries in the area - including Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama - was canceled.
 
An advisory remains in effect for Hawaii, but the waves aren't expected to cause much damage, Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, told ABC News.
 
"The waves will not be big enough to cause any flooding, so nobody needs to evacuate. But we just want to clear the beaches. And fortunately, since it's 3:30 in the morning, that's really no hardship," Fryer said.
 
“The biggest worry is the currents. If anyone is in the water, you know fishing or something like that, they could get banged up or swept out to sea or something.”
 
The northern part of Chile is being declared a disaster zone and armed forces are on their way to the area, President Michelle Bachelet said at an overnight press conference. The presidents of Peru and Argentina have called, lending support if needed, Bachelet said.
 
The earthquake was so strong that the shaking it caused in La Paz, Bolivia, 290 miles from the epicenter, was the equivalent of a 4.5-magnitude tremor, authorities there said. The quake triggered at least eight strong aftershocks in the first few hours, including a 6.2 tremor.
 
In Chile, evacuation orders were issued for the cities of Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta. All cities were along a low coast and each evacuation involved a significant climb to higher land further inland.
 
Salvador Urrutia, the mayor of Arica, said there were minor injuries in the city but no deaths reported. Some homes were damaged, but the modern structures and taller buildings were not damaged.
 
He said the city was without power and had no cellphone service.
 
Despite the fear caused by the evacuation order, which was not limited to the coast, he said people remained calm.
Published in National News
   Officials say a powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Sunday night off the coast of Northern California, but there was no danger of a tsunami.
   The U.S. Geological Survey says the temblor struck at 9:18 p.m. PDT about four miles beneath the Pacific seabed and about 50 miles west of Eureka.
   Sheriff's and fire officials in Humboldt County, which includes most of the populated areas near the quake, say there have been no calls about damages or injuries.
   USGS seismologist Susan Hoover says more than 300 people have reported feeling the temblor on their website.
     The National Tsunami Warning Center says there is no tsunami danger for the region.
Published in National News

   WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Strong earthquakes shook central New Zealand on Friday, damaging homes, destroying a bridge and sending office workers scrambling for cover in the capital. No serious injuries have been reported.

   A magnitude-6.5 temblor struck just after 2:30 p.m. near the small South Island town of Seddon, and at least six aftershocks were 5.0 magnitude or stronger.

   Several homes near the epicenter were severely damaged, with chimneys collapsing and roofs caving in, said police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn. She said a bridge was severely damaged on the main highway near Seddon, and that rocks and debris had fallen onto the road. Police closed a section of the highway.

   Some buildings in Wellington, the capital, were evacuated, and items were knocked off shelves in places.

   Police said a number of people were freed from Wellington elevators that stopped working. The initial temblor also forced the nation's stock exchange to close for more than an hour.

   Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there was no major damage to the city's infrastructure or office buildings. She said highways had become clogged as people left the city.

   "We think this is business as usual," she said, "but it is going to take a little while for people to get home tonight."

   The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the initial temblor was 94 kilometers (58 miles) west of Wellington at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).

   A quake of similar strength in the same area three weeks ago broke water mains, smashed windows and downed power lines.

   Caroline Little, a seismologist with New Zealand quake monitoring agency GeoNet, said the series of quakes since July had followed an unusual pattern.

   "Normally you get a big quake and then the aftershocks get smaller in magnitude," she said.

   Little said the July quake was on a fault line near Seddon that had not previously been mapped. She said it was too early to determine if Friday's quakes were on that same fault.

   A different fault line runs through Wellington, and many in the city fear a major disaster if it were to become active.

   New Zealand is part of the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire" that has regular seismic activity. A severe earthquake in the city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city's downtown.

   Local authorities issued no tsunami warnings after Friday's quakes.

Published in National News

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