Chileans survey damage after huge quake kills six

Chileans survey damage after huge quake kills six

IQUIQUE, Chile - Thousands of Chileans returned home Wednesday after spending the night on hills following a powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake that killed six people and sparked tsunami fears as far as Japan.

Police and soldiers patrolled the streets to prevent looting after Tuesday's quake in the north of Chile, which escaped a major catastrophe after nearly one million people evacuated their homes along the lengthy coast.

The chaos - and a collapsed wall - allowed some 300 inmates to escape a women's prison in Iquique, the city closest to the huge quake's epicenter. Authorities said 110 of them had been recaptured.

The earthquake caused copper prices to jump to a three-week high in the major mining country. The state-run Codelco mining company, the world's top copper producer, evacuated some facilities on the coast but none suffered damage.

No houses collapsed, but roofs sagged, windows broke and products tumbled from shelves at shopping centers in Iquique, located about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) north of the capital Santiago.

Some 2,500 homes were damaged in the town of Alto Hospicio, near Iquique, the National Emergency Office said.

Tsunami alert lifted

Thousands of people slept in the open on high ground surrounding the city during the night. They returned home after authorities lifted the tsunami alert 10 hours later. People stood in long lines to get fuel at service stations, with gasoline rationed to a maximum of US$20 (S$25).

The sea rushed 200 meters (yards) inland, flooding some streets, authorities said. Fishermen reported that 80 boats had been destroyed, sunk or floated out to sea.

Iquique's airport control tower was damaged and flights there, to Arica and the northern city of Antofagasta were cancelled, though they resumed on Wednesday.

Landslides covered the road linking Iquique with the rest of the country.

Six people - five men, including a Peruvian, and one woman - were killed in Iquique and the nearby Alto Hospicio municipality.

Another nine people were injured in neighbouring Peru, where homes were damaged.

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