On Tuesday, April 1, northern Chile was hit by an 8.2 magnitude earthquake. The following day, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet went to inspect the damage that was left in its wake. Although the damage was not as bad as the country feared, the earthquake still left six people dead. It also forced the evacuation of more than 900,000 people in the area.
The damage that was observed along the northern coast of Chile seems to be pretty minor. This is great considering that it was the centre of the earthquake. That being said, there were a number of scattered fires that broke out all over the coast. This was caused by gas lines that ruptured during the quake. There was also some damage to businesses and homes. Most of the damage, however, was seen to the 40 fishing boats that were damaged or destroyed as they were docked along the coast. There are also three major highways that run through Chile and had to be shut down.
After the earthquake hit, the Chilean government was worried that the country would be hit by a tsunami. In fact, there was a tsunami alert in place late Tuesday for the 3,500-mile coastline of Chile. This alert has since been removed.
Due to the size of this earthquake, more than 60 aftershocks have been reported as of Wednesday. These little aftershocks did not cause much damage, but it was enough to still cause fear in the people who were returning to Chile after they were evacuated. The people who were evacuated from Chile spent the night in 18 different shelters that were located far away from the centre of the earthquake.
Salvador Urruita, the mayor of Arica, said that the earthquake was not as terrible as what Chile prepared for. The city is pretty much fine with no real visible damage. There also does not appear to be any major tsunamis headed to these areas as a result of the earthquake. Luckily, none of the bridges collapsed, and there does not seem to be any damage to them. None of the schools in the area suffered any kind of significant damage, so kids will be able to return to school shortly. The goal is to return back to normal life as quickly as possible.
Out of the six people who died, three of them died from heart attacks when the earthquake hit. The fear of the earthquake was much greater than the actual earthquake itself. Another person that was killed was a fireman who was on duty.
For the next week or two, authorities in the area will be on the lookout for more damage that was caused by the earthquake. They will check roads and bridges to make sure they are all still structurally sound. However, most experts seem to think that the worst of the damage has already been reported. The power is still out for some areas, but they are working on getting the power restored to all people.