Authorities in northern Chile discovered surprisingly light damage and just six reported deaths Wednesday from a magnitude-8.2 quake - a remarkably low toll for such a powerful shift in the Earth's crust.
President Michelle Bachelet arrived in Iquique before noon to review damage after declaring a state of emergency. Hours earlier, she sent a military plane with 100 anti-riot police to join 300 soldiers deployed to prevent looting and round up escaped prisoners.
Thousands of people evacuated from low-lying areas were returning home after a spending a long night outside due to the threat of a tsunami. The government's mandatory order to leave the coast was spread through cellphone text messages and Twitter, and reinforced by blaring sirens in neighborhoods where people regularly practice earthquake drills.
Seawater flooded city streets and washed away some fishing boats in Iquique, but by early Wednesday no major tsunami damage was apparent. Chile's entire coast was initially subject to the mandatory evacuation order, which lasted nearly 10 hours in coastal communities closest to the offshore epicenter.
The shaking that began at 8:46 p.m. Tuesday also touched off landslides that blocked roads, knocked out power for thousands, damaged an airport and started fires that destroyed several businesses. Some homes made of adobe were destroyed in Arica, another city close to the quake's offshore epicenter.
Mining in Chile, which is the world's top copper producing nation, was not affected, although world prices for the red metal jumped as the quake raised supply concerns because most of the Chilean mining industry is in the northern regions.Six