A massive earthquake hit Chile this morning. Tsunami warnings are out, and there are reports of a 131-foot wave the Juan Fernandez Islands. Continuing updates as available. NBC reportes a tsunami wave is expected to reach Hawaii's coastline at 11:19 AM local time and 4:19 PM EST. Continuing updates as available. See updates below. If you are concerned about loved ones in Chile, call the U.S. State Department at 1-888-407-4747. See video below. See the latest update here.
Two million people in Chile have been affected.
The quake hit at 3:30 AM local time, and less than 100 miles north of the city of Concepcion, the second largest city in Chili. Power and phone lines are out-of-service. In Santiago, hospitals have been evacuated and the airport is closed. Santiago is located 200 miles from Concepcion.
Concepcion is the country's second-largest country. More than 200,000 people live along the Bio Bio river. It is reported that the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church was heavily damaged and the bell tower collapsed.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):
Depth 35 km (21.7 miles)
Region: Offshore Maule, Chile
100 km (60 miles) NNW of Chillan, Chile
105 km (65 miles) WSW of Talca, Chile
115 km (70 miles) NNE of Concepcion, Chile
325 km (200 miles) SW of SANTIAGO, Chile
Reports from Santiago, Chile, said
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake struck 56 miles northeast of the city of Concepcion at a depth of 22 miles at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. ET).
Jessica Sigala, a geophysicist with the USGS told NBC News that the quake released 500 times more energy than the than the one that hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 12. The quake was felt in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is located more than 800 miles away.Tsunami warnings were issued for Hawaii, South America, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many other Pacific islands.
Chile is the home to the world's biggest earthquake, measuring 9.5 magnitude, in 1960. At least 1,655 people died and 2 million were left homeless.
Today's earthquake is 64 times stronger than the one that Haiti in January 2010. It is deeper than the Haiti quake and due to the depth, it is hoped there will be fewer casualties.
Continuing updates as available for the Chile 8.8. earthquake.
USGS reported 11 aftershocks, of which five measured 6.0 or above.
On FOXNews at 10:40 EST: the largest aftershock at this time is 6.9
11:00 AM Ecuador time: 11:0 AM EST - Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa said a tsunami has passed the Galapagos Islands, causing a swell but no damage.
A "huge" wave hit the Robinson Crusoe Islands 410 miles off the Chilean coast. There are no reports of injuries or major damage at this time.
British experts said a giant wave was now spreading from the epicentre in Chile towards the famous Easter Islands and then outwards in to the Pacific.
The extent of the tsunami's strength is not yet known, but it has already reached the southern Juan Fernandez Islands, about 400 miles off the coast of Chile, where it was reported to have caused "serious damage".
"Tsunami waves in the deep ocean travel about the same speed as a jet plane and would take about 15 hours to reach Hawaii and about 20 hours to reach the other side of the Pacific," he added.Tsunami warnings were issued for Guam, American Samoa and other Pacific islands.
All Hawaiian coastlines are under Tsunami warning, including Waikiki.
Update 2-27-10 12:20 EST: Four people died in a tsunami on Juan Fernandez islands.
In the City of Concepcion, a city of 670,000, a 15-story apartment building collapsed, along with many of the adobe houses. There is darkness tonight, light coming from bonfires.
Related and Background:
Hawaii Chile Earthquake: Tsunami Wave to Hit Hawaii at 4 PM EST (11:19 AM local time)