Thursday, November 15, 2007

Earthquake - Chile (Calama) NOV

A major earthquake rocked a large area of northern Chile on Wednesday, toppling power lines and closing roads. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the quake, which was felt in the capital as well as neighboring Peru and Bolivia.

“It was horribly strong. It was very long and there was a lot of underground noise,” said Andrea Riveros, a spokeswoman for the Park Hotel in Calama, about 60 miles east-southeast of the epicenter.

She said the quake knocked out power to the hotel, but caused no damage.

“I was very frightened. It was very strong,” added Paola Barrie, administrator at the Agua del Desierto Hotel, three miles from Calama. “I’ve never felt one that strong.”

'Floating' feeling
She said the hotel felt “like a floating island” during the quake, which downed power lines and cracked windows on nearby houses.

A reporter for Radio Cooperativa who had just landed in Antofagasta, about 105 miles south of the epicenter, told the station she saw cracks in the airport tarmac.

Presidential spokesman Ricardo Lagos Weber said it was centered in the Andean village of Quillahua, near Calama, site of the large Chuquicamata copper mine.

Initial reports “indicate that there have been no injuries, but some damage has occurred, apparently not serious,” he said.

Carmen Fernandez, head of the government’s Emergency Bureau, said the quake was felt across nearly 1,300 miles, from Chile’s northern border with Peru to the capital.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, 36.7 miles deep, was centered 66 miles west of the town of Calama and struck at 1540 GMT (10:40 a.m. ET).

The quake was initially reported at 7.8 magnitude by the agency and later verified at 7.7.

Chilean authorities discounted Wednesday the chances of a tsunami along its Pacific coast.

Warning for Hawaii
Meanwhile, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for Hawaii, west across the Pacific, but said the quake would cause only small non-destructive sea level changes and strong unusual currents for a few hours.

“Based on all available data there is no destructive tsunami threat to Hawaii,” the center said in its advisory.

Meanwhile, the National Emergency Office in Chile said it had no information on any casualties but it was evaluating the impact of the quake.

“We are evaluating the impact that the quake might have caused,” an ONEMI spokesman told national television.

State copper miner Codelco had no immediate comment on possible damages. - Source

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