Very strong moderately dangerous earthquake in Northern Chile – 1 woman died of a heart attack

Last update: January 31, 2013 at 10:35 am by By

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Update 10:25 UTC : As could be expected a lot of aftershocks in the area. The strongest one so far was a M4.9 at 02:10:52 local time.

Summary January 31 – 00:15/02:45 UTC : Unfortunately we have to report that a 50 year old woman from Copiapo (Patricia Aguilar) died of a heart attack. ER calls this a secondary fatality so remains an Orange event.
- Communications and power have been most affected in Huasco and Tierra Amarilla with around 18000 homes having no power for a few hours. Carrizal Bajo would have felt the earthquake extremely strongly and we are still waiting for damage reports from this harbour town of around 1000 people about 15-20km from the epicenter.
- A task force is currently assessing the situation in Vallenar, but the damage can after  be called minor (some partly collapsed walls, landslides (picture), broken and collapsed gutters etc.
- Road damage via ground movement has added to the difficulties of this taskforce work.

Image courtesy @TorrejonPedro on Twitter

Image courtesy @TorrejonPedro on Twitter


Update 22:21 UTC : People living in the Atacama province will have to be conditioned to live for a long time with aftershocks.  The area had a lot of weak to moderate earthquakes since a long time and today’s earthquake will only add to this.
This is an overview of the strongest aftershocks so far (courtesy University of Santiago)

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 23.16.37

Update 21:58 UTC : Video of the shaking in La Serena, 169 km from the epicenter.
MMI shaking in La Serena was IV (light shaking).
An ONEMI employee stated that the shaking lasted in between 25 and 30 seconds, which is normal for such a strong earthquake.

Update 21:49 UTC : Chile is one of the best prepared countries in the world against earthquakes. Most of the buildings have been build earthquake resistant and the authorities have a very good communication system by means of ONEMI.
No more news at the moment. We will continue scanning the local authorities and local press and will report to our readers if we find some additional information.

Update 21:28 UTC : No injuries reported at the time, only panicked people in hospitals.

Update 21:27 UTC : After the first frightening reactions in Vallenar the situation is clearing and it looks after all that there will be NO general serious damage, which we like a lot.
The area has still problems with the cellular network.  We are tired of repeating that the solution is simple. Block all voice traffic in the earthquake zone and allow only conversations with the rescue and relief services. Let people communicate by TEXT (SMS) and the networks will hold.

The video below is from the LIVE news show from CNN CHILE

Update 21:19 UTC : USGS has increased the Magnitude from M6.7 to M6.8 at the same depth of 47.5 km.
The area has regular strong earthquakes due to the subduction of the Nazca plate below the South American plate.  The Nazca plate moves to the east and hangs here and there. When the stress gets too big, the earthquakes occur.

Update 21:14 UTC : Although NO tsunami alert was called, people have auto-evacuated the beaches which are currently completely deserted.
The epicenter area itself is almost unpopulated with only a few scattered houses in Carrizal Alto.
A landslide on the north side of Vallenar made the road to be closed.

Update 21:10 UTC : At least 2 well felt aftershocks on the region. Minor landslides are reported on Vallenar.
Calm is slowly restoring.  Vallenar has a population in between 48,000 and 70,000 people depending on the source.
Onemi Chile (Civil Defence of Chile) has reported strong shaking (MMI VI) in the following cities :
Copiapó,  Huasco, Tierra Amarilla and Vallenar

Update 21:04 UTC : Collapsed walls are not yet confirmed (dangerous for injuries) but people in Vallenar are mentioning a lot of broken windows. Vallenar is still 44 km from the epicenter, but at the depth of +40 km the difference in shaking will be limited.

Update 20:57 UTC : People in Santiago felt a gentle shaking, but you have to consider that Santiago is approx. 600 km from the epicenter.Below a twitter picture (courtesy and copyright @Johaines1 of the shaken bottles in a supermarket in Vallenar, Northern Chile

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 21.56.11

Update 20:51 UTC : The government is calling for calm, radio Bio Bio is saying there was mass hysteria in Vallenar.

Update 20:50 UTC : Electricity went down on some parts of Copiapo.
The earthquake was strong and long.
On Vallenar there are reports of a lot of windows broken, cracks and collapsed walls.
A lot of panic in there, people crying on the streets.

Update 20:43 UTC : In a local TV studio a windows rattle and a big one broke , but didn’t made injuries.
There are problems with communications with mobile phones.
In the third region of Chile there are reports of collapsed walls.
Electricity went down on some parts of Copiapo.
This looks like a grim earthquake, worse than other intermediate depth earthquakes.

Chile Januari 30 2013 earthquake shaking map

Update 20:37 UTC : People are running away from the beach, flee their houses to the streets and others are taking the cars to drive home to check their possessions

Update 20:34 UTC : ONEMI Chile reports the following preliminary Intensity values :
Región: Atacama
Copiapó VI, Tierra Amarilla: VI
Región: Coquimbo
Coquimbo:         V
La Serena:          V
Región: Valparaíso
Valparaíso:         III
NO damage so far (far too early) but Telecommunications are down in the area.
MMI VI means a strong shaking. Copiapo is the biggest city in the area

Update 20:29 UTC : Universidad de Chile Santiago preliminary data are reporting M6.4 at a depth of 43 km.
Damage cannot be excluded completely at this point.

The earthquake epicenter is below land, so a tsunami risk can be excluded immediately.
Epicenter in between Vallenar and Copiapo.
Much more very soon

Chile January 30 2013 Earthquake

Chile-only earthquake list

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 6.4 changed afterwards into Ml6.7 (Chile) 6.7 changed into 6.8 (USGS)
Local time at epicenter : 42 km changed into 52.5 km (Chile) 47.5 USGS
Local Time : 2013-01-30 17:15:43 UTC-03:00 at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 43 km (USGS 47.5 km)
Geo-location(s) (USGS) :
44km (27mi) N of Vallenar, Chile
100km (62mi) SSW of Copiapo, Chile
197km (122mi) NNE of La Serena, Chile
204km (127mi) NNE of Coquimbo, Chile
586km (364mi) N of Santiago, Chile

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map showing the epicenter and the surrounding area
Historic earthquakes map
Shaking map
Human impact map
Scientific parameters

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SRC Location UTC Date/time M D INFO
EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 23:15 4.2 43 MAP I Felt It
EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 22:37 3.0 40 MAP I Felt It
EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 22:16 3.8 42 MAP I Felt It
EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 21:40 3.8 70 MAP I Felt It
EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 20:55 4.6 69 MAP I Felt It
EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 20:40 4.7 20 MAP I Felt It
GEOFON Near Coast Of Northern Chile Jan 30 20:40 4.8 10 MAP I Felt It
EMSC Offshore Valparaiso, Chile Jan 30 20:31 3.5 55 MAP I Felt It
USGS Atacama, Chile Jan 30 20:15 6.8 45 MAP I Felt It
  • Copiapo - Cayeron elementos de estantería. Aparecieron grietas en las paredes. Por momentos fue difícil mantener el equilibrio.
  • SSUCH Huasco, Vallenar, Chile Jan 30 20:15 6.7 52 MAP I Felt It
    USGS Atacama, Chile Jan 30 20:15 6.7 25 MAP I Felt It
    GEOFON Central Chile Jan 30 20:15 6.7 47 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 20:15 6.8 46 MAP I Felt It
    PTWC Central Chile Jan 30 20:15 6.7 25 MAP I Felt It
  • Santiago - I felt it
  • Santiago - On 11th floor of office building in the Las Condes area of Santiago...gentle rocking motion for about 10 seconds
  • Recoleta, Santiago, Chile - I live on the 21st floor, felt the building bob back and forth gently for about 10 seconds.
  • Santiago, Chile - At the airport on January 30, 2013. The ground shook, vibrated like a large jet was taxiing by us. The glass in the windows was pulsing.
  • WCATWC Central Chile Jan 30 20:15 6.6 43 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Coquimbo, Chile Jan 30 18:24 2.5 58 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Tarapaca, Chile Jan 30 18:22 3.1 126 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Tarapaca, Chile Jan 30 17:59 2.6 104 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Valparaiso, Chile Jan 30 14:34 2.9 58 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Tarapaca, Chile Jan 30 13:10 2.6 98 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Tarapaca, Chile Jan 30 11:47 3.2 140 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 10:43 3.1 15 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Offshore Coquimbo, Chile Jan 30 10:17 3.2 32 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Atacama, Chile Jan 30 09:33 4.8 2 MAP I Felt It
    GEOFON Northern Chile Jan 30 09:33 4.9 23 MAP I Felt It
    USGS Atacama, Chile Jan 30 09:33 4.8 24 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Offshore O'higgins, Chile Jan 30 06:47 3.0 33 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Antofagasta, Chile Jan 30 06:29 3.1 137 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Offshore Tarapaca, Chile Jan 30 05:04 2.7 12 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Offshore Coquimbo, Chile Jan 30 03:05 3.1 33 MAP I Felt It
    EMSC Offshore Tarapaca, Chile Jan 30 01:00 3.3 26 MAP I Felt It

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    MMI II (Very weak shaking) ?
    People :
    Felt by persons at rest, on upper floors or favorably placed.
    MMI III (Weak shaking) ?
    People :
    Felt indoors; hanging objects may swing, vibration similar to passing of light trucks, duration may be estimated, may not be recognized as an earthquake.
    MMI IV (Light shaking) ?
    People :
    Generally noticed indoors but not outside. Light sleepers may be awakened. Vibration may be likened to the passing of heavy traffic, or to the jolt of a heavy object falling or striking the building.
    Fittings :
    Doors and windows rattle. Glassware and crockery rattle. Liquids in open vessels may be slightly disturbed. Standing motorcars may rock.
    Structures :
    Walls and frames of buildings, and partitions and suspended ceilings in commercial buildings, may be heard to creak.
    MMI V (Moderate shaking) ?
    People :
    Generally felt outside, and by almost everyone indoors. Most sleepers awakened. A few people alarmed.
    Fittings :
    Small unstable objects are displaced or upset. Some glassware and crockery may be broken. Hanging pictures knock against the wall. Open doors may swing. Cupboard doors secured by magnetic catches may open. Pendulum clocks stop, start, or change rate.
    Structures :
    Some large display windows cracked. A few earthenware toilet fixtures cracked.
    MMI VI (Strong shaking) ?
    People Felt by all. People and animals alarmed. Many run outside. Difficulty experienced in walking steadily.
    Fittings :
    Objects fall from shelves. Pictures fall from walls. Some furniture moved on smooth floors, some unsecured free-standing fireplaces moved. Glassware and crockery broken. Very unstable furniture overturned. Small church and school bells ring. Appliances move on bench or table tops. Filing cabinets or "easy glide" drawers may open (or shut).
    Structures :
    Slight damage to buildings with low standard. Some stucco or cement plaster falls. Large display windows broken. Damage to a few weak domestic chimneys, some may fall.
    Environment :
    Trees and bushes shake, or are heard to rustle. Loose material may be dislodged from sloping ground, e.g. existing slides, talus slopes, shingle slides.
    MMI VII (Very strong shaking) ?
    People
    General alarm. Difficulty experienced in standing. Noticed by motorcar drivers who may stop.
    Fittings :
    Large bells ring. Furniture moves on smooth floors, may move on carpeted floors. Substantial damage to fragile contents of buildings.
    Structures :
    Unreinforced stone and brick walls cracked. Low standard buildings cracked with some minor masonry falls. A few instances of damage to buildings of ordinary workmanship. Unbraced parapets, unbraced brick gables, and architectural ornaments fall. Roofing tiles, especially ridge tiles may be dislodged. Many unreinforced domestic chimneys damaged, often falling from roof-line. Water tanks Type I burst. A few instances of damage to brick veneers and plaster or cement-based linings. Unrestrained water cylinders (hot-water cylinders) may move and leak. Some common windows cracked. Suspended ceilings damaged.
    Environment :
    Water made turbid by stirred up mud. Small slides such as falls of sand and gravel banks, and small rock-falls from steep slopes and cuttings. Instances of settlement of unconsolidated or wet, or weak soils. Some fine cracks appear in sloping ground. A few instances of liquefaction (i.e. small water and sand ejections).
    MMI VIII (Severe shaking) ?
    People Alarm may approach panic. Steering of motorcars greatly affected. Structures : Low standard buildings heavily damaged, some collapse. ordinary workmanship buildings damaged, some with partial collapse. Reinforced masonry or concrete buildings damaged in some cases. A few instances of damage to buildings and bridges designed and built to resist earthquakes. Monuments and pre-1976 elevated tanks and factory stacks twisted or brought down. Some pre-1965 infill masonry panels damaged. A few post-1980 brick veneers damaged. Decayed timber piles of houses damaged. Houses not secured to foundations may move. Most unreinforced domestic chimneys damaged, some below roof-line, many brought down. Environment : Cracks appear on steep slopes and in wet ground. Small to moderate slides in roadside cuttings and unsupported excavations. Small water and sand ejections and localized lateral spreading adjacent to streams, canals, lakes, etc.
    MMI IX (Violent shaking) ?
    Structures Many low standard buildings destroyed. Ordinary workmanship buildings heavily damaged, some collapse. Reinforced masonry or concrete buildings damaged, some with partial collapse. Buildings and bridges designed and built to resist earthquakes damaged in some cases, some with flexible frames seriously damaged. Damage or permanent distortion to some buildings and bridges, designed and built to normal use standards. Houses not secured to foundations shifted off. Brick veneers fall and expose frames. Environment : Cracking of ground conspicuous. Landsliding general on steep slopes. Liquefaction effects intensified and more widespread, with large lateral spreading and flow sliding adjacent to streams, canals, lakes, etc.
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