SANTIAGO, Chile -- A powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile's northern coast Tuesday night, causing landslides and setting off a small tsunami that forced an evacuation of coastal areas. In the city of Arica, the mayor reported some minor injuries and said some homes made of adobe were destroyed. The quake shook modern buildings in nearby Peru and in Bolivia's high-altitude capital of La Paz.
The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported the quake at 8.0, but later upgraded the magnitude. It said the quake struck 61 miles northwest of the Chilean city of Iquique at 8:46 p.m., hitting a region that has been rocked by numerous quakes over the past two weeks. The quake was so strong that the shaking experienced in Bolivia's capital about 290 miles away was the equivalent of a 4.5-magnitude tremor, authorities there said.
At least eight strong aftershocks followed in the first few hours, including a 6.2 tremor. More aftershocks and even a larger quake could not be ruled out, University of Chile seismologist Mario Pardo said.
Some roads in northern Chile were blocked by landslides, causing traffic jams among people leaving the coast. Coastal residents of northern Chile evacuated calmly, as waves measuring almost 61/2 feet struck their cities ahead of a tsunami expected to come ashore later.
Evacuations also were ordered in Peru, where waves 61/2 feet above normal forced about 200 people to leave the seaside town of Boca del Rio. But there were no injuries or major damage, said Col. Enrique Blanco, regional police chief in Tacna, a Peruvian city of 300,000 near the Chilean border. "The lights went out briefly, but were re-established," he said.
A tsunami alert was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for all of Latin America's Pacific coast, and Chile's Emergency Office warned that a large tsunami wave was expected to hit Robinson Crusoe island and others in the Juan Fernandez archipelago, hundreds of miles off Chile's central coast, just before midnight local time.