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Tsunami warning after powerful 8.3 earthquake hits Chile

A powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck off Chile's coast on Wednesday, according to a preliminary assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake's epicenter was about 54 kilometers (34 miles) west of Illapel, Chile, USGS said. It occurred around 7:54 p.m. (6:45 p.m. ET) and had a depth of 33 kilometers (20.5 miles).

Chile's national emergency agency issued a tsunami alert, ordering evacuations in coastal areas from Arica to Puerto Aysen.

There were reports of damages to homes in Illapel, Interior Minister Jorge Burgos told reporters.

Ricardo Toro, the director of Chile's emergency agency, told reporters that there were no reports of major damage or deaths.

Pictures taken inside a shopping mall in La Serena, in the coastal city just north of Coquimbo, showed walls and signs toppled to the floor, ceiling tiles caved in as well as chairs, benches and tables covered in rubble.

"Widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible" along the coast of Chile and Peru, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, and a tsunami watch is in effect for Hawaii.

The mayor of Coquimbo, Chile, told CNN Chile the city was starting to see flooding and had lost electrical power.

A strong aftershock could be felt in the country's capital, about 230 kilometers (145 miles) away from the quake's epicenter, CNN sister network CNN Chile reported.

Chile is in one of the most earthquake-prone regions in the world.

The country sits on an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Ocean known as the "Ring of Fire." The area experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Since 1973, Chile has had more than a dozen quakes of magnitude-7.0 and above.

Measuring earthquakes

Earthquakes: Fast facts


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