Saturday, February 27, 2010
Prayer Need: Massive Magnitude 8.8 Quake Hits Chile
Please pray for the people of Chile. Here is the story from Fox News:
A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, collapsing buildings, killing dozens and downing phone lines. President Michele Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile and said the death toll was rising.
Chile's top emergency official said at least 78 people were killed
There have been a number of aftershocks to hit Chile since the quake, the largest one registering at magnitude 6.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
"It has been a devastating earthquake," Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma told reporters.
Tsunami warnings were issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many Pacific islands.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's tsunami warning monitors reported a wave measuring nearly eight feet hit near Talcahuano, Chile, about 90 minutes after the quake hit. Other waves of up to four feet hit other coastal areas. The NOAA has placed its alert on the highest level — severe.
"We have had a huge earthquake, with some aftershocks," Bachelet said, appealing from an emergency response center for Chileans to remain calm. "Despite this, the system is functioning. People should remain calm. We're doing everything we can with all the forces we have. Any information we will share immediately."
Bachelet said "without a doubt, with an earthquake of this magnitude, there will be more deaths."
In the 2 1/2 hours following the 90-second quake, the U.S. Geological Survey reported 11 aftershocks, of which five measured 6.0 or above.
She urged people to avoid traveling in the dark, since traffic lights are down, to avoid causing more fatalities.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tells Fox Nows: "We are doing a few things. First, our Embassy is reaching out to the Chilean government to offer assistance. Chile has both significant capabilities and strong building codes. Second, the Embassy has activated its Warden system to communicate with Americans in Chile and make sure they are okay. You should check with the Pentagon as well to see what SOUTHCOM is doing."
Crowley added: "We have more than 100 personnel at the Embassy. They are all okay and accounted for."
The quake hit 200 miles southwest of the capital, Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles at 3:34 a.m., the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
The epicenter was just 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile's second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live along the Bio Bio river, and 60 miles from the ski town of Chillan, a gateway to Andean ski resorts that was destroyed in a 1939 earthquake.
In Santiago, the capital, modern buildings are built to withstand earthquakes, but many older ones were heavily damaged, including the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church, whose bell tower collapsed. An apartment building's two-level parking lot also flattened onto the ground floor, smashing about 50 cars whose alarms and horns rang incessantly. A bridge just outside the capital also collapsed, and at least one car flipped upside down.
In the coastal city of Vina del Mar, the earthquake struck just as people were leaving a disco, Julio Alvarez told Radio Cooperativa in Santiago. "It was very bad, people were screaming, some people were running, others appeared paralyzed. I was one of them."
Bachelet said she was declaring a "state of catastrophe" in 3 central regions of the country, and that while emergency responders were waiting for first light to get details, it was evident that damage was extensive.
She said the initial death toll was 16, "but we cannot dismiss the possibility of more," and encouraged people to stay home and not travel unless strictly necessary.
Several hospitals have been evacuated due to earthquake damage, she said, and communications with the city of Concepcion remained down. She planned to tour the affected region as quickly as possible to get a better idea of the damage.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center called for "urgent action to protect lives and property" in Hawaii, which is among 53 nations and territories subject to tsunami warnings.
A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles off the Chilean coast, Bachelet said. There were no immediate reports of major damage there, she added.
"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts," the warning center said. It did not expect a tsunami along the west of the U.S. or Canada but was continuing to monitor the situation.
The largest earthquake ever recorded struck the same area of Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 quake 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.