April 4 - A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake strikes off northern Chile, but there are no reports of damage and a precautionary tsunami alert along the coast and in neighboring Peru is called off. Sarah Toms reports.
Residents in Iquique flee their homes, screaming as another powerful earthquake rattles northern Chile. Some left only half dressed as they scrambled to escape, scared the walls would come down on them. This latest earthquake -- with a magnitude of 7.6 -- comes just over 24 hours after Tuesday's massive quake killed six people. The few people remaining in this northern city packed up their bags and left in the middle of the night with only their most precious possessions. President Michelle Bachelet was forced to join mass evacuations when she left the coast for higher ground. She had been visiting Arica to access the damage of the first 8.2 magnitude quake. (SOUNDBITE) (SPANISH) CHILE'S PRESIDENT MICHELLE BACHELET, SAYING: "The whole coastal boarder evacuated, just as they are evacuating in Arica, as well as the rest of Chile. So we of course continue with the corresponding procedures. So we hope that everyone remains calm and follows the instructions that authorities have given so that we can all be safe. We have come here (to Arica) to find out if we can help in any way, though we don't want to intrude. This (the Onemi office) has all the information and if there is any situation, the ministers accompanying me, and also our connection with Santiago, we want to know how we can help in the current situation. Try to be useful. I saw people walking calmly. It is evident that they are prepared, because they walk with small travel bags, which probably contains a coat and something to eat. Many people walking, many sitting near the hospital, calmly waiting. I think it is good that people have had a very significant response to the call by authorities to evacuate preventively." More than 2,600 homes were damaged along the northern coast in Tuesday's earthquake but across the country most infrastructure held up. SOUNDBITE (SPANISH) FEMALE RESIDENT, SAYING: "The truth is I prayed a lot (during the quake), but still...it wasn't as strong (as yesterday), but it has been getting stronger, from six and up." This latest quake is the strongest of several aftershocks. But so far there have been no reports of damage and a tsunami alert along the coast has been called off.