A strong 7.8-magnitude quake struck off the coast of Northern Chile late Wednesday, more than a day after a powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit the region, killing at least six people and triggering a tsunami alert along the country's coast and as far north as Hawaii, but there were no immediate reports of new damage or injuries from the latest tremor, the U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, said.
The quake, reportedly the largest of a series of aftershocks, was located 12 miles south of the port of Iquique at a depth of 12.4 miles, the USGS reportedly said. The aftershock prompted tsunami alerts and evacuations along Chile's coast and in neighboring Peru, but warnings were later cancelled by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Minor tsunami waves were also reported in northern Japan early Thursday following Tuesday's powerful earthquake, which occurred thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean.
Although there were no injuries from the aftershock, President Michelle Bachelet, who was in the area to inspect the damage from the earlier quake, was evacuated from her hotel in the city of Arica, local media reported.
“They're a seismically active region of the world and they are very good at implementing their building codes similar to California," John Bellini, a Denver-based geophysicist at the USGS, told CNN on Wednesday, while talking about the preparedness of millions of people and strict building codes adhered to by Chile, which has been credited with limiting the death toll after the strong earthquakes.
"Because of that, you would see less damage than in other places that have poorer building codes .... that's probably one of the reasons there haven't been as many casualties as there could have been from a magnitude earthquake of this size,” Bellini added.
Bachelet also praised the local people's orderly response to the emergency, saying: “We are here to recognize the calm behavior of the people of Iquique who showed great civic responsibility, as did those of Arica. I think you have given us all a tremendous example.”
Ricardo Toro, director of Chile's office of national emergency, reportedly said that nearly 928,000 people were evacuated after Tuesday’s earthquake, which reportedly damaged more than 2,600 homes and fishing boats along the country's northern coast.