Massive Earthquake Shakes Chile
TALCA, Chile (AP)--- A devastating earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, toppling homes, collapsing bridges and plunging trucks into the fractured earth. A tsunami set off by the magnitude-8.8 quake threatened every nation around the Pacific Ocean - roughly a quarter of the globe.
Tsunami warnings and advisories were issued along the entire U.S. Pacific coast, including Hawaii.
Sirens blared in Hawaii to alert residents to the impending waves, with authorities asking people living near the water to evacuate. On several South Pacific islands hit by a tsunami last fall, police evacuated tens of thousands of residents from the coast.
The first waves in Hawaii are expected to hit shortly after 4 p.m. EST Saturday and measure roughly 8 feet at Hilo. Most Pacific Rim nations however did not order evacuations, but advised people in low-lying areas to be on the lookout.
U.S. Senator George LeMieux, R-Fla., expressed his concerns for the people of Chile.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the earthquake," LeMieux said. "Chile is one of our strongest allies, and we will work together with Chileans as they recover. Those concerned about loved ones in the region should contact the State Department as soon as possible."
A toll-free number has been established for Floridians concerned about friends and family members, who were in Chile when the massive earthquake struck. The toll-free number for assistance is 888-407-4747.
Chileans near the epicenter were tossed about as if shaken by a giant. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Chile in 50 years and one of the strongest ever measured anywhere. President-elect Sebastian Pinera said more than 120 people died, but that number was rising quickly.
The quake shook buildings in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires, and was felt as far away as Sao Paulo in Brazil - 1,800 miles to the east.
In Talca, just 65 miles from the epicenter, furniture toppled as the earth shook for more than a minute in something akin to major airplane turbulence. The historic center of town largely collapsed, but most of the buildings of adobe mud and straw were businesses that were not inhabited during the 3:34 a.m. quake.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Eva Vergara reported from Santiago, Chile. Associated Press
Television News cameraman Mauricio Cuevas and writer Eduardo
Gallardo in Santiago, and AP writer Sandy Kozel in Washington
contributed to this story.
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