An 8.3 magnitude earthquake in Chile earlier this week has killed at least 11 people. The earthquake happened along the country’s long coastline, prompting tsunami warnings in the Pacific. The Earthquake’s epicenter was in the northern part of the country, less than 200 miles away from the country’s capital, Santiago. Some one million people have been forced to flee their homes in the aftermath of the quake. A 16-foot tsunami, created by the quake, slammed into the coastline, causing extensive damage. More than 170 homes were destroyed between the earthquake and the tsunami.

Chile Earthquake
Ships washed ashore by the tsunami caused by the earthquake (Wikimedia Commons/Sfs90)

Chile’s coastline has a long history of earthquakes and is one of the places on Earth most susceptible to seismic shocks. Because of this, authorities in Chile plan for earthquakes and have response teams ready to mitigate the negative effects on human life. After this most recent quake, authorities were credited with saving lives with their quick response and advanced planning. A key part of this planning was retrofitting buildings to withstand the shocks of intense earthquakes. John Bellini, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said that “they’re a seismically active region of the world and they are very good at implementing their building codes similar to California.” These strict building codes, along with well-rehearsed evacuation plans, were seen as invaluable factors in saving so many lives.

In 2010, a tremendous 8.8 earthquake hit Chile, killing over 500 and doing extensive damage. A year later, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction credited Chile’s building codes for saving many lives.


In Chile, Earthquake Forces One Million to Evacuate – The New York Times

Chile quake triggers mass evacuation and tsunami alert – BBC

Chile Earthquake: Disaster planning pays off – CNN

Experts: Strict building codes saved lives in powerful Chile earthquake – CNN

Further Reading:

The Really Big One – The New Yorker

Earthquakes Fast Facts – CNN

Building codes saves lives – main message on anniversary of Chile earthquake and lesson learned from NZ – United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction