By Gerry Cunningham/Irish TimesCHILEE, Chile (Reuters) – An earthquake in Chile on Wednesday killed at least 13 people and injured dozens more and sent tens of thousands of people scrambling for shelter, officials said.
The temblor was the largest recorded in the country since 2004, and it sent thousands of panicked people fleeing into the mountains where authorities said they feared the death toll could rise.
It came after Chile declared a state of emergency to deal with the quake’s damage.
“I think that we are going to get another earthquake,” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet told a televised news conference, as her government declared a national state of disaster.
A report from the National Earthquake Center in Santiago said the quake occurred at a depth of about 40 km (25 miles) and was centered about 50 km (31 miles) from the city of Quito, about 40 kilometers (25.8 miles) south of the capital Santiago.
It was the third magnitude-6.7 quake in less than a week.
The strongest quake hit on Saturday in Chile’s central Andes region.
“We are not in danger,” the president said.
“Our government is doing everything it can to help the people, so that is why we are taking precautions.”
The Chilean government said it would give up the right to use the state emergency declaration to set up relief camps and establish a network of mobile water pumps.
Citing an extensive earthquake map, Chile’s national seismology office said it detected a magnitude of 5.6 in the area of Quique and a magnitude 5.2 in the surrounding areas.
“This is not a new event, this is not the first earthquake, this was an earthquake that has happened many times in the last decade,” the agency said in a statement.
The quake struck a mountain range on the Pacific coast and was felt across the country and abroad.
People stood near a damaged house in the town of Quiche, where the quake struck, on the outskirts of Quilmes city in central Chile, October 6, 2018.
People are seen at the scene where a quake hit in Quiche city in southern Chile, Oct. 6, 2017.
A woman carries a bag containing supplies to evacuate her home after an earthquake in Quique, Chile, November 11, 2017.(File: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Reuters)People take shelter under a tree in a street after an explosion in the city centre of Quijeco, Chile October 10, 2017 in this still image taken from video.
Residents gather to gather water and food as they wait for the arrival of emergency workers at a building damaged in a quake in Quijes, Chile November 11.
The earthquake was centred near the town Quijego, about 45 kilometers (27.8) from Quito.
A large area of rubble is seen at a house damaged in the quake in a town of the same name, southern Chile October 9, 2017, after an aftershock was recorded at about 9:30 a.m.
Chile’s National Emergency Agency said on its website that quake waves had measured 8.2 and 9.2 magnitude and had measured a temblage of 3.8.
“These earthquakes are not caused by earthquakes, but by the actions of humans, which is why the state of alarm is necessary,” the emergency agency said.
In a televised interview on Thursday, Bachelets government said people needed to be alert and ready for any change in the seismic activity.
“The emergency will continue until there is a final answer,” she said.(Reporting by Gerry Cunningham and Phil Stewart in Santiago, Chile; Writing by David Hall; Editing by John Stonestreet)