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  • happening now    April 2 
Chile counts at least five deaths from Tuesday night's massive earthquake
USGS
USGS

At least five people are dead following the 8.2 magnitude earthquake that hit off northern Chile Tuesday night. According to Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo, the fatalities were caused by people being crushed or suffering heart attacks.

The Associated Press reports that close to 300 inmates escaped from a women's prison in the port city of Iquique, and the military will send a plane filled with special forces to help keep looting at bay. In several locations, landslides blocked roads, making it difficult for people to evacuate low-lying areas. In Arica, 86 miles from the epicenter, hospitals are treating patients for minor injuries. About 90 percent of the town's residents are without electricity, and some adobe homes have been destroyed.

The country's emergency office announced that the tsunami watch will stay in effect for six hours; the earthquake triggered a small tsunami earlier in the night. "We regard the coastline of Chile as still dangerous, so we're maintaining the warning," Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, tells the AP.

More than 10 intense aftershocks followed the 8.2 temblor, including one with a 6.2 magnitude. Seismologists say it's likely that more aftershocks will hit, and an even bigger earthquake could also occur.

- - Catherine Garcia
 
 
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