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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

   ISHINOMAKI, Japan (AP) — Just days after arriving in Japan as the new U.S. ambassador, Caroline Kennedy is making a two-day visit to areas devastated by the 2011 tsunami to meet survivors and highlight America's commitment to supporting its ally.

   The daughter of President John F. Kennedy tried her hand at calligraphy, exchanged high-fives with schoolchildren and got an early birthday greeting Monday as she toured the northeastern region, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) north of Tokyo.

   Rebuilding in the region has barely begun. Makeshift stores, restaurants, car washes and laundries have been set up in areas flattened by the tsunami, which was triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake. The disaster left more than 18,000 people dead or missing, and tens of thousands of people remain in temporary, prefabricated housing more than 2 1/2 years later.

   Residents of the industrial port city of Ishinomaki stood in the wind and pouring rain waiting for a glimpse of Kennedy. She visited a park with a wide vista of the city's ravaged waterfront before heading to the Mangokuura Elementary School.

   The students performed skits in English and sang "Happy Birthday" to Kennedy, who turns 56 on Wednesday. Kennedy presented 112 books to the school, donated in memory of Taylor Anderson, an American who died in the tsunami while teaching at Mangokuura and other schools in Ishinomaki.

   Kennedy brushed in black ink the Japanese character for the word "tomo," or friend. She then sat down to read "Where the Wild Things Are," the classic children's book by American author Maurice Sendak, to a sixth-grade class.

Published in National News

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