Fear and confusion after Chile quake

People recover items from a destroyed shop caused by the waves in Concon city (Reuters)
People recover items from a destroyed shop caused by the waves in Concon city (Reuters)

Thousands of Chileans were plunged into a terrifying darkness today when an 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the country's capital Santiago.

The quake killed at least five people, injured dozens more and flooded parts of the country. A million people have been evacuated.

Aucklander Natalia Bogle was four floors up working in her Santiago apartment, as it swayed she grabbed her dog, ran to the doorway and expected the worst.

"I don't deal well with earthquakes so I will say personally I did well not actually fearing for my life…You think in that moment the earthquake might not ever stop," she says.

The aftershocks - some above magnitude 6 - haven't stopped.

"We just had one a couple of minutes ago, they are obviously going down in intensity but yeah, [it's] still quite scary," says Ms Bogle.

The threat now is widespread hazardous tsunami waves. Swells up to 4.5 metres have already been seen along the coast.

"I know that in the north of the country where the epicentre was they evacuated whoever they could for a tsunami warning. I guess we have to sit tight, I know that the airport is on standby, everything is on standby, what the state of the runways are, things like that," says Ms Bogle.

The effects could also be felt in New Zealand which, like many other countries, is on tsunami watch.

"The tsunami from this particular event could take many tens of hours to cross the Pacific. So if you are in New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji or Japan you'd be on watch for a while," says seismologist Mark Simons.

But it's this earthquake-prone country which is again in true chaos and fear. 

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