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Massive Earthquake Strikes Chile, Measuring 8.2 And Sparking Tsunami Warnings

02/04/2014 07:31 BST | Updated 02/04/2014 09:59 BST

An enormous earthquake, measuring a magnitude of 8.2, has struck off northern Chile's coast causing a tsunami, and a climbing death toll.

A 6.9 foot wave struck the coast of Iquique, which caused the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre to issue a warning of further tsunamis in multiple countries, including Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico, but the warning has now been rescinded for 14 of Chile's neighbours.

Shocks from the quake were felt as far afield as Bolivia's capital La Paz, about 290 miles away, and also in Peru.

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Firefighters try to extinguish a fire on a restaurant by the sea shore on Chile's Pacific coast

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Five people have been killed, several people had been seriously injured, and tens of thousands had evacuated

At least 10 strong aftershocks followed in the first few hours, including a 6.2 tremor, AP reported. Further shocks, and even a further quake are not being ruled out by Chilean seismologist.

Roads were jam-packed as coastal residents fled inland when 6.5 feet waves hit seaside towns like Boca del Rio.

Iquique Governor Gonzalo Prieto said at least five people had been killed, several people had been seriously injured, and tens of thousands had evacuated, according to the BBC.

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People flee the 'Costa Verde' bay after a tsunami alert in Lima, after the Chile earthquake struck

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People survey the 'Costa Verde' bay from atop a hill following a tsunami alert in Lima

Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said President Michelle Bachelet was travelling to the area.

"We have taken action to ensure public order in the case of Iquique, where we've had a massive escape of more than 300 female prisoners, so that the armed forces and police can coordinate and provide security to the residents," he said.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, as the Nazca tectonic plate rests underneath the South American plate.

In 2010, a magnitude-8.8 quake and tsunami in central Chile killed more than 500 people and destroyed 220,000 homes. That quake was so powerful, it changed Earth's rotation by a fraction of a second, shortening the Earth's day.

Chile Earthquake