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Aftershocks and tsunamis in wake of the quake

media A video grab of a building damaged by the earthquake in Concepcion, Chile Reuters

Chile has been wracked with aftershocks on Saturday, just hours after a massive 8.8 earthquake shook the country, the US Geological Survey said. The death toll is over 100 and mounting. A series of aftershocks ranging from 5.5 to 6.9 on the richter scale continue to batter Chile. A 5.5 aftershock hit near Valparaiso after the major quake in the early hours of the morning. The depth of the quake was 35 kilometres.

A tsunami struck Chile's remote Robinson Crusoe Island, a part of the Juan Fernandez Archipelago. Aid ships had been sent to rescue inhabitants, some 700 kilometres from the Chilean mainland in the Pacific Ocean.

Easter Island is also being partially evacuated. "High tidal waves could reach Easter Island," said Chilean President Michele Bachelet. "Because of that we are evacuating people living in low-lying areas," she added.

More than 50 countries are on alert in the aftermath of the earthquake.

"Sea level reading confirm that a tsunami has been generated which could cause widespread damage," the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. It issued a tsunami warning for Chile and Peru, and a tsunami watch for Ecuador, Colombia, Antarctica, all of Central America and French Polynesia. Australia, New Zealand and Japan are also on tsunami alert.

Earlier in the day, Japan's Okinawa island was hit by its biggest seismic jolt in more than half a century when a powerful earthquake struck, triggering minor tsunamis but causing only minor injuries and small amounts of damage.

Japan's meteorological agency has warned of a tsunami risk across large areas of the Pacific including as far away as the Antarctic.

The Philippines warned low lying coastal areas to prepare for a possible evacuation.

New Zealand forecasts that a wall of water up to three metres will hit the eastern Chatham Islands at 1805 UT on Saturday. the largest waves are expected between six and 12 hours after the initial waves hit the shore.

"There is a possible marine threat along the east coast of the North Island and South Island and Chatham Island," New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said.



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