A huge 8.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Chile early on Saturday killing at least 78 people, toppling buildings and triggering a tsunami threatening the Pacific rim of fire, officials said.The massive quake plunged much of the Chilean capital, Santiago, into darkness as it snapped power lines and severed communications. AFP journalists spoke of walls and masonry collapsing while people in pajamas fled onto the streets.
Television images showed destroyed or heavily damaged buildings and debris-strewn streets.Residents in the south of the city, which appeared to have borne the brunt of the quake, said roads had crumpled and a bridge had been damaged, as an AFP correspondent said buildings “shook like jelly.”
A partial evacuation of Easter Island has been ordered in Chile in the face of possible big tidal waves, President Michelle Bachelet announced. She also said two ships with aid had been dispatched to Robinson Crusoe Island, part of the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, which has been affected by a big tidal wave. Japan’s meteorological agency warned of a tsunami risk across large areas of the Pacific including as far away as the Antarctic, as the Philippines warned low-lying coastal areas to prepare for possible evacuation.