A major earthquake just offshore hit Chile last night, killing three people and shaking the Earth so strongly the tremor was felt in many places across South America.
Staff worked into the early hours assessing damage in several coastal towns that saw flooding from small tsunami waves set off by the quake.
The magnitude-8.3 quake hit off northern Chile, causing buildings to sway in the capital of Santiago and prompting authorities to issue a tsunami warning for the Andean nation’s entire Pacific coast.
People sought safety in the streets of inland cities, while others along the shore took to their cars to get to higher ground.
“Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature,” President Michelle Bachelet said in an address to the nation.
She said three people had been killed in the quake, and urged those who evacuated from coastal areas to stay on high ground until the authorities could fully evaluate the situation.
Officials said schools would be kept closed in most of the country today.
Numerous aftershocks, including one at magnitude-7 and four above 6, shook the region after the initial earthquake.
It was the strongest tremor since a powerful quake and tsunami killed hundreds in 2010 and levelled part of the city of Concepcion in south-central Chile.