CHILE – A powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck off Chile’s coast on Wednesday, according to a preliminary assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake’s epicenter was about 55 kilometers (34 miles) west of Illapel, Chile, USGS said. It occurred around 7:54 p.m. (6:45 p.m. ET) and had a depth of 33 kilometers (20.5 miles).
Chile’s national emergency agency issued a tsunami warning, ordering evacuations in coastal areas from Arica to Puerto Aysen.
There were reports of damages to homes in Illapel, Interior Minister Jorge Burgos told reporters.
“Widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible” along the coast of Chile and Peru, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, and a tsunami watch is in effect for Hawaii.
A strong aftershock could be felt in the country’s capital, CNN sister network CNN Chile reported.
Chile is in one of the most earthquake-prone regions in the world.
The country sits on an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Ocean known as the “Ring of Fire.” The area experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Since 1973, Chile has had more than a dozen quakes of magnitude-7.0 and above.
A tsunami watch is in effect for Hawaii because of the powerful 8.3 magnitude earthquake off Chile’s coast, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. “If tsunami waves impact Hawaii, the estimated earliest arrival of the first tsunami wave is 8:38 a.m. ET Thursday,” the center said.