Magnitude 8.2 quake strikes Northern Chile

Magnitude 8.2 quake strikes Northern Chile

A magnitude 8.2 earthquake has hit Northern Chile, killing five people and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands from coastal areas.

The quake struck at 9pm local time 95 kilometres off the coast of the city of Iquique at a depth of 20 kilometres, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

A tsunami warning was put in place immediately after the earthquake with emergency services fearing waves as high as two metres could strike the coast.

Copper prices rose to a three-week high amid concerns the quake would disrupt production from the world’s largest producers of the metal. Company spokespeople from Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer said its mines were unaffected.

Chilean president Michelle Bachlet told state television services: “The country has been able to withstand these first few hours of emergency. We have taken all the necessary steps.”

Bachelet also declared Arica-Parinacota and Tarapaca “catastrophe areas” and said she would travel to the region today.

The 2010 Chilean earthquake killed around 500 people and caused $8bn of insured losses and $30bn in economic losses.

Reinsurer Swiss Re said this morning that it was "too early for loss estimates" but that it was monitoring the situation.

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