Port of Coquimbo closed while tsunami damage assessed

Port of Coquimbo closed while tsunami damage assessed

The Chilean port of Coquimbo has had its container terminal services suspended as authorities assess the havoc caused by Wednesday’s massive earthquake, Chile’s worst in five years, according to AFP.

Chile’s national government declared a state of emergency for the whole Coquimbo region, worst-hit part of the country after the 8.3 magnitude quake, which was so big it affected the earth’s rotation.

This quake was the biggest anywhere in the world this year. The US Geological Survey said it struck of the coast of Coquimbo about 25 km deep.

Coquimbo city, in Elqui Province, was near the epicentre of the quake which sent tsunamis all the way across the Pacific Ocean to Japan. Tsunami effects registered along the Pacific coastline through American and Canada, too.

It was a tsunami that did most of the damage in Coquimbo. Waves 4.5m high lifted large fishing boats, trucks, cars and building debris into the town’s streets.

The city’s two-berth port, which handles containers, break bulk and heavy lift cargo, endured extensive damage.

But the good news was that all employees were evacuated from the port and that there were no injuries there.

By Friday the death toll stood at 12. Hundreds of people were displaced. Around a million were temporarily evacuated as a precaution but most returned to their homes.

Authorities claimed the number of fatalities could have been worse but for the calm response of citizens and emergency workers.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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