A powerful earthquake has shaken the capital of Chile with a frightening 8.3 magnitude tremor.
The residents of Santiago have taken to the streets, escaping the shaking buildings as alarms sounded.
The quake’s epicentre was around 54km west of Illapel, Chile and occurred around 7.54pm with a depth of 33km.
According to Chilean National Police, one woman has been killed with seven more injured in the quake – three of whom are thought to be in critical condition.
LaSerena, Chile… supermarket shelves rocked by earthquake pic.twitter.com/2xEx01iZSt
— JohnBelski (@JohnBelskiWLKY) September 17, 2015
Evacuation has been ordered in coastal areas as Tsunami alarms were sounded in the sea port of Valparaiso. Chile has experienced further aftershocks with more expected to continue, as the government issues warnings to occupants of the affected towns.
Large waves off the Chilean coast have been recorded at more than three metres, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.
Tsunami alerts have now been issued for Peru, Hawaii and New Zealand.
The ministry of Civil Defence in New Zealand has issued a warning for East Cape, Chatham Islands, Coromandel and Banks Peninsula.
The government is urging people in the affected coastal areas to stay out of the water, off beaches and stay alert – keeping abreast of up-to-date information via the radio.
Stay off beaches and shore areas, do not go sightseeing, share this information with family, neighbours and friends — MCDEM (@NZcivildefence) September 17, 2015
Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates and follow instructions of local civil defence authorities
— MCDEM (@NZcivildefence) September 17, 2015
The tsunami warning will remain in effect until the Civil Defence issues a cancellation message.
“This warning has been issued to all local civil defence authorities, emergency services, other agencies and media,” civil defence said.
“Local civil defence authorities will interpret this information for their areas and advise public action via local radio stations.”
If the waves reached New Zealand, they were expected to first hit Gisborne about 12.15am.
“At the moment any threat is a long way off and would be middle of the night stuff for New Zealand,” Shane Bayley from the Ministry of Civil Defence says.
“No threat confirmed for Auckland yet they are in watching mode,” Bayley says.
Chile is in one of the most earthquake-prone regions in the world, having over a dozen earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 and over, since 1973.
Update: California has now issued a tsunami warning
**Update** as of 5.50pm
The death count has now moved to 5 with 20 considered injured.
One million people have been evacuated, with coastal towns bracing for tsunamis after flooding has destroyed homes.