HAWAII – A powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck off Chile’s coast on Wednesday, according to a preliminary assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey. At least three people were killed, President Michelle Bachelet said. The victims included a 35-year-old woman who was killed by a falling roof, a 20-year-old woman who was killed by falling rocks and a man in his 80s who had a heart attack, Bachelet said. At least seven people were injured in the quake, he said, three of whom are in serious condition.
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.
A tsunami advisory was issued for the coastal areas of Southern California. An advisory means strong currents are likely and residents should stay away from the shore.
KTLA says the advisory was issued for the California coast from San Onofre State Beach in Orange County to Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County, where waves of up to 1 foot above the tide line were possible.
The tsunami activity was expected to arrive on California beaches around 4:45 a.m. on Thursday.
A tsunami watch is in effect for Hawaii because of the earthquake Wednesday 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.
“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.