Saturday, February 27, 2010

VIDEO:Catastrophic 8.8-Mag. Quake Strikes Chile

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(CBS/AP) A devastating earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, toppling homes, collapsing bridges and plunging trucks into the fractured earth. A tsunami set off by the magnitude-8.8 quake threatened every nation around the Pacific Ocean - roughly a quarter of the globe.

Chileans near the epicenter were tossed about as if shaken by a giant. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Chile in 50 years and one of the strongest ever measured anywhere.

At least 147 people were killed, according to Carmen Fernandez, director of the National Emergency Agency.

A U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist told CBS' "The Early Show" that the 8.8-mag. quake released 500 times the energy as last month's 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.

The quake shook buildings in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires, and was felt as far away as Sao Paulo in Brazil - 1,800 miles to the east.

In Talca, just 65 miles from the epicenter, furniture toppled as the earth shook for more than a minute in something akin to major airplane turbulence. The historic centre of town largely collapsed, but most of the buildings of adobe mud and straw were businesses that were not inhabited during the 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. EST, 0634 GMT) quake.

Neighbors pulled at least five people from the rubble while emergency workers, themselves disoriented, asked for information from reporters.

Collapsed roads and bridges complicated north-south travel in the narrow Andean nation. Electricity, water and phone lines were cut to many areas - meaning there was no word of death or damage from many outlying areas.

President Barack Obama said the U.S. is ready to assist Chile in rescue and recovery efforts. He said the U.S. has resources that are in position to deploy should the Chilean government ask for U.S. assistance.

Mr. Obama also said the U.S. is preparing for a tsunami that could reach American shores, and he wants people in Hawaii, American Samoa and Guam to follow the instructions of local authorities.

In the capital Santiago, 200 miles northeast of the epicenter, a car dangled from a collapsed overpass, the national Fine Arts Museum was badly damaged and an apartment building's two-story parking lot pancaked, smashing about 50 cars whose alarms rang incessantly.

Experts warned that a tsunami could strike anywhere in the Pacific. Emergency officials set off shrieking alarm sirens across parts of Hawaii, which could face its largest waves since 1964 starting at 11:19 a.m. (4:19 p.m. EST, 2119 GMT), according to Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Source: WWJ950 and RussiaToday

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