Big quake hits Chile, but bigger one may be coming

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IQUIQUE, CHILE – It was a case of Chile con carnage when an 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit just off the northern coast of Chile, triggering a mandatory evacuation from the coast.

This was the third quake to hit the area in less than a month.

Tsunami watches and warnings went out to neighboring countries, but the worst seems to have been seven-foot waves around the epicenter.

The quake set off three big fires in Iquique, about sixty miles southeast of the epicenter.

Evacuees spent the night wherever they could find higher ground.

Chilean officials say at least six people died, two of them from heart attacks. And 300 inmates escaped from the prison in Iquique when walls collapsed and doors opened.

Earthquake watchers in this country say they expect Chile to get hit by a bigger quake, maybe 8.8 or 8.9.

“We expect about another 8.8, 8.9 earthquake here sometime in the future,” said Prof. Mark Simons of CalTech’s Seismological Laboratory. “Could be tomorrow, could be in 50 years we do not know when its going to occur. But the key point here is that this magnitude 8.2 is not the large earthquake we were expecting for this area.”

An 8.8-magnitude earthquake in 2010 killed about 500people and moved the city of ten feet to the west and closer to the sea, and you can bet, a drop in the ocean is not what they want to be.