The quake sparked a tsunami warning for all of South and Central America‘s Pacific coast, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has said in a statement.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake was very shallow, only 6.2 miles below the seabed, and struck at 6:46 p.m. 62 miles northwest of the mining port of Iquique, near the Peruvian border.
“An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours,” the tsunami warning center told reporters.
Aside from Chile, the coasts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua are also at risk the centre said, warning that a tsunami of up to 6.3 feet could strike the town of Pisagua, Chile, within 44 minutes of the quake.
In 2010, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that caused widespread destruction and damage in several coastal towns in central-south Chile and killed hundreds of people.