Earthquake News

Chile Earthquake - February 27, 2010 M 8.8

Chile Earthquake - February 27, 2010 M 8.8

With a magnitude of 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale, the 2010 Chile earthquake and tsunami (Spanish: Terremoto del 27F) struck off the coast of central Chile on Saturday, February 27 at 03:34 local time (06:34 UTC). The strong shaking lasted for almost three minutes.

Numerous Argentine cities, including Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza, and La Rioja, experienced tremors. Nearly 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) to the north, in the southern Peruvian city of Ica, tremors were reported.

The earthquake caused a tsunami that wreaked havoc on numerous coastal communities in south-central Chile and wrecked Talcahuano's port. The wave caused moderate damage in the San Diego region of California and the Thoku region of Japan, where damage to the fishing industry was assessed at 6.26 billion (US$66.7 million). Tsunami warnings were issued in 53 countries. The earthquake also caused a nationwide blackout that, in some areas, lasted for several days and affected 93% of Chileans.

It was felt strongly in six regions across Chile, spanning from Valparaso in the north to Araucana in the south, and including about 80% of the country's population. The most shaken cities were Concepción, Arauco, and Coronel, which the United States Geological Survey classified as VIII (Severe) on the Mercalli intensity scale (MM) (USGS). According to the Chilean Seismological Service, Concepción experienced the most shaking during MM IX (Violent). President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" and dispatched military troops to take control of the most affected areas after the earthquake that registered at MM VII (Very) in Santiago, the nation's capital, caused 525 fatalities, 25 missing persons, and about 9% of the population to be evacuated.

Swiss Reinsurance Co. predicted on March 10 that the Chilean earthquake would cost insurance firms between $4 billion and $7 billion. The similar assessment was made by the competing German company Munich Re AG. Losses from the earthquake to Chile's economy are expected to be between $15 and $30 billion.

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