Powerful quake off Chile slams waves into coastal towns, kills five

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A magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck off the coast of Chile on Wednesday, killing at least five people and slamming powerful waves into coastal towns.

At least five people were killed and 10 hurt in Chile, while a million were evacuated and one person went missing.

The quake and heavy waves caused flooding in coastal towns, damaged buildings and knocked out power in the worst hit areas of central Chile and shook buildings in the capital city of Santiago about 280 kilometres to the south.

Thousands of terrified residents rushed out onto the streets in Santiago. The quake was felt as far away as Argentina, where buildings also swayed.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) put the shallow offshore quake at a magnitude of 8.3 and said it hit just 228km north of Santiago, a city of 6.6 million people.

The quake, which struck at 7:54 pm, hit at a depth of 8km, USGS said. Seismologists also reported two aftershocks, both above 6.0.

The Chilean government put the main earthquake at 8.0 on the Richter scale.

President Michelle Bachelet said she planned to travel to the areas worst affected by the quake, the biggest to hit the world’s top copper producer since 2010.

“Once again we’re having to deal with another harsh blow from nature,” Bachelet said in a televised statement.