The death toll from the 8.2-magnitude earthquake of magnitude that struck northern Chile increased to six, official sources said, while the authorities lifted the tsunami warning being held in six locations of the affected area.
According to the Minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Peñailillo, the sixth victim was a woman who died of a fall, although he offered no more details. He had earlier reported five killed by crushing, falls or heart attacks.
The quake, occurred at 11:46 p.m. on Tuesday, had its epicenter under the sea, southwest of Iquique and about 1,850 kilometers from Santiago, in the region of Tarapacá.
About 900,000 people were evacuated to higher areas of cities after confirming the tsunami alert, Minister Peñailillo described the response as exemplary, marked by the order and tranquility.
The evacuation order was extended to coastal towns throughout Chile and in addition, the authorities decreed in the same suspension of classes for Tuesday.
Past 6:30 am on Wednesday, Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Navy (SHOA) lifted the tsunami alarm in the last six locations that remained during the night: Arica, Pisagua, Iquique, Patache, Tocopilla and mussels.
The SHOA, however, warned that the average sea level can suffer variations for several more hours and people at those points in the North of Chile and vessels that carry out activities in the sea could be affected by the current.
The earthquake on Tuesday came after an in intense seismic activity in the area, bordering Peru and Bolivia, since March 16, caused by the clash between the Nazca and South American plates and was followed during the night and early morning by more than 20 aftershocks, some up to 4.9 degrees Richter magnitude.
Diana Comte, seismologist at the University of Chile, said the spate of replicas was normal, as well as warn that experts still cannot determine if last night was the big earthquake that is expected in the region for over a century.
The activity of the Nazca and South American plates has caused at least one large magnitude earthquake in every century in the region, the last of them in 1877.
President Michelle Bachelet decreed the regions of Arica and Parinacota and Tarapacá as disaster zones and had military control of the most affected areas, to ensure safety, and was prepared to travel to the area on Tuesday.
Some 350 inmates of the women’s prison in Iquique escaped during the earthquake and according to the police, only some dozens had been arrested or voluntarily returned to the prison during the night.
Local authorities waited for the daylight to assess the damage caused by the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that hit the coast, with waves of two meters or more in some locations.
More than 30 flights to and from the cities of Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta were cancelled by aeronautical authorities, who pointed out that the situation is evaluated on an ongoing basis, to resume activity as soon as possible.