Civil defense alert for Hawaii. An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.8 has hit Chile. Contact with city of Concepcion lost. Fate of 800,000 people unknown. Tsunami warning issued as far as Australia. .
Update #9. The US Geological Survey puts the magnitude of this earthquake in perspective.
This earthquake occurred at the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates. The two plates are converging at a rate of 80 mm per year. The earthquake occurred as thrust-faulting on the interface between the two plates, with the Nazca plate moving down and landward below the South American plate.
Coastal Chile has a history of very large earthquakes. Since 1973, there have been 13 events of magnitude 7.0 or greater. The February 27 shock originated about 230 km north of the source region of the magnitude 9.5 earthquake of May, 1960 – the largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the world. This magnitude 9.5 earthquake killed 1655 people in southern Chile and unleashed a tsunami that crossed the Pacific, killing 61 people in Hawaii, Japan, and the Philippines. Approximately 870 km to the north of the February 27 earthquake is the source region of the magnitude 8.5 earthquake of November, 1922. This great quake significantly impacted central Chile, killing several hundred people and causing severe property damage. The 1922 quake generated a 9-meter local tsunami that inundated the Chile coast near the town of Coquimbo; the tsunami also crossed the Pacific, washing away boats in Hilo harbor, Hawaii. The magnitude 8.8 earthquake of February 27, 2010 ruptured the portion of the South American subduction zone separating these two massive historical earthquakes.
A large vigorous aftershock sequence can be expected from this earthquake.
Update #8. Death toll continues to rise in Chile as wave closes in on Hawaii. URGENT ACTION
SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY.
Santiago airport closed. Tremors felt in Argentina.
Update#7. Almost all countries in the Pacific have been issued a warning, including New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii and as far as Russia and Japan.
There has been no contact with the Chilean city of Concepcion, a coastal area home to more than 600,000 people which is under 100 kilometres from the quake epicentre.
Update#6. 40 meter wave tsunami hitsJuan Fernandez islands 600 kilometers off Chile and keeps on travelling towards Hawaii. The islands have a population of around 700 people. If the size of the wave is confirmed, total devastation a possibility. CNN in reporting over 25 aftershocks recorded in Chile.
Update #5. Tsunami warning issued for east coast of Australia. Wave could arrive at 8:45AM Sunday morning Sydney Time.
Update #4. Death toll rises to 47.
Update #3. Death toll now reported by Chilean TV at 16.
First video of damage courtesy of BBC.
Update #2. President of Chile, Michele Bachelet warns of high death toll.
We have had a huge earthquake. We're doing everything we can with all the forces we have. Any information we will share immediately.
Commenting on earlier reports of deaths, Bachelet said.without a doubt, with an earthquake of this magnitude, there will be more deaths.
Update #1. Tsunami Bulletin for Hawaii.
First reports indicate at least six deaths.
This earthquake follows a 7.0 magnitude near the RYUKYU ISLANDS in JAPAN less than 12 hours prior to the Chile earthquake.
The earthquake struck Saturday February 27, 2010 at 06:34 UTC, (01:34AM Toronto time, 8:34PM Friday Hawaii time and 5:34PM Saturday in Sydney Australia)
The epicenter was located 325 km (200 miles) SW of the capital Santiago at a depth of 35 km (21.7 miles) .
Reports of damage are preliminary as communications have been disrupted in Chile.
A Tsunami (Tidal Wave) warning has been issued by the US Geological Survey. Tsunami warnings have already been issued for Hawaii.
Should a Tsunami occur, the expected time of impact in Hawaii is estimated to be 11:19AM Hawaii time on Saturday.
More to follow.