8.8 Magnitude Earthquake hits Chile, Triggers Tsunami

chile earthquake triggers tsunamiChile Earthquake 2010: A  powerful earthquake hit Chile early Saturday killing more than 100 people, damaging buildings and setting off a tsunami that threatened several countries around the Pacific Ocean.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said the death toll is expected to rise. He also declared “state of catastrophe” in the country.

The epicenter of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake was located about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, off the coast of Maule at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. ET / 6:34 a.m GMT).

“I would like to offer my condolences to the families of the 122 people who lost their lives during the earthquake,” said Chilean President-Elect Sebastian Pinera. “And by the way, the number of victims could get higher.”

The quake was said to be the most powerful to hit Chile in 50 years. Santiago, the Chilean capital, lost electricity while water and telephone lines were also down. The major bridge connecting South and North Chile was also reported to be inoperable.

According to the U.S Geological Survey, a number of aftershocks were recorded after the initial quake including a 6.9 magnitude one.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific region including Hawaii, Russia and Japan.