The United States Geological Survey has reported a massive 8.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of central Chile.
The powerful quake has shaken Chile’s capital, causing buildings to sway and people to take refuge in the streets.
Several strong aftershocks, measuring 6.2 and 6.4, hit within minutes as tsunami alarms sounded in the port of Valparaiso.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami watch for the state of Hawaii.
BREAKING: Powerful quake shakes Chile’s capital, causing buildings to sway, people to run into streets.
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 16, 2015
The USGS said the quake, which had originally been estimated as a magnitude 7.9, occurred at 7:54pm local time, 55 kilometers west-northwest of Illapel, and 232 kilometers north-northwest of Santiago. Its epicenter center was located at a depth of 33 kilometers.
The National Emergency Office (ONEMI) have issued a tsunami alert for the entire coastline, and has urged people to remain calm and go to the meeting points in security zones.
Chile’s emergency office warned that big waves caused by the quake could hit the coast by 11pm (2pm), some expected to be up to 3 metres high. Smaller waves up to 1m were predicted for Ecuador and Peru. Officials in New Zealand were also assessing the tsunami risk.
CHILE EARTHQUAKE UPGRADED TO MAG 8.3 The threat of tsunami to NZ and #Auckland is being assessed
— Auckland CDEM (@AucklandCDEM) September 16, 2015
The US National Tsunami Warning Centre issued a warning for Hawaii and said it was evaluating the threat to other countries in the Pacific, as well as North America. There have not been any reports of injuries or deaths at the time of writing.