Earthquake Cripples Chile

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An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile on the morning of February 27, destroying buildings, highways and killing 708 people according to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

The earthquake is one of the largest ever recorded and was felt as far away as Brazil. The earthquake sent a tsunami that barely missed Hawaii and is expected to affect the shores of Asia, Australia and New Zealand within the next 24 hours.

Bachelet declared a “state of catastrophe” in Central Chile after the earthquake affected more than 500,000 homes across the region, according to a report issued from the Chilean Red Cross. More than 90 aftershocks have been recorded, ranging from 4.9 to 6.9 in magnitude as reported by CNN.

Chile has also been hard hit by looting in the aftermath of the quake, as thieves have taken the hard-hit city of Concepcion by storm. “They are robbing everything,” Concepcion Mayor Jacqueline Van Rysselberghe said in a statement posted on CNN.com.

Chile has a history of major earthquakes. Thirteen quakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher have occurred in Chile since 1973 according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The largest, a 9.5-magnitude earthquake, killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless in Chile on May 22, 1960.