A tsunami warning has been issued after an 8.3 earthquake hit the coast of central Chile, with the Chilean authorities issuing a tsunami warning for its entire coastline.
The earthquake was so strong that people in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Peru and Brazil reported feeling the tremors. No injuries were reported outside Chile.
So far, a total of five people were reported killed with one person listed as missing, Associated Press reports. Another 1 million people were evacuated from affected coastal areas.
The coastal town of Coquimbo was hit by waves of up to 4.5 meters after the earthquake. "We're going through a really grave situation with the tsunami. We have residential neighbourhoods that have flooded ... the ocean has reached the [Coquimbo] downtown area," Coquimbo Mayor Christian Galleguillos said, according to Reuters.
Q13Fox said that large tsunami waves have been observed along the Chilean coast while in Coquimbo, a wave measuring more than 15 feet was seen, according to the US National Tsunami Warning Centre.
Denis Cortes, the mayor if Illapel, which is near the epicentre of the earthquake, said over a radio broadcast that a woman had been killed by a collapsing wall. Another seven were injured, three of whom are in serious condition, according to Q13 Fox.
The full extent of the damage is still not known. There is no power in the city. "We are very scared. Our city panicked," Cortes said, according to AP.
The earthquake hit the coast of central Chile, about 246km (153 miles) north-west of the capital of Santiago. According to a preliminary assessment from the US Geological Survey, the quake's epicentre was about 54km west of Illapel and had a depth of 33km.
In La Serena, which is located next to the epicentre of the quake, 24-year-old Ricardo Toledo told IBTimes UK that he was playing football when the first quake struck. He had trouble maintaining his balance during the four minutes that the tremors lasted.
"Once the quakes subsided, I headed to higher ground and tried to contact my family," the medical student said, adding that the city was hit by several large aftershocks. He has been following the news after reuniting with his younger brother and mother.
His mother, Nury Rojas Villarreal, 58, who was working at a liquor store when the earthquake struck told IBTimes UK: "It felt very strong. Bottles fell and the noise was very loud. I went out to the street where it was less dangerous and waited for the quake to pass. The tsunami alert immediately began to sound on my mobile phone," she said.
As she was in the evacuation zone, she closed the liquor store and followed others to higher ground. "I was finally brought home by some friends in their truck, where I found my sons safe and sound," she said.
Several aftershocks, all greater than magnitudes of 6.1 struck the region less than an hour after the initial earthquake, the US Geological Survey said, according to Reuters.
In an update, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said tsunami waves have been observed and that based on all available data, hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts.
Tsunami threat warnings have been issued for Chile where waves reaching more than three meters above the tide level are possible along some coasts. The Chilean government has urged residents to evacuate the coastline, Reuters reported.
Tsunami waves reaching one to three meters above the tide level are also possible along some coasts of French Polynesia, it said. Hazardous tsunami waves are also possible along the coasts of Peru within the next several hours, the centre said.
Peruvian authorities have warned that waves of less than 1 meter could hit the country's southern shoreline at 8.30pm local time and urged people to avoid coastal areas. Tsunami advisories have also been issued to California and Hawaii.
The National Weather Service said the tsunami will affect California coast at about 4.46am local time in Newport Beach and arrive a minute later in the Port of Los Angels. By 5.06am, the tsunami will hit Santa Barbara and shortly Port San Luis.
The tsunami is expected to bring strong currents and dangerous waves and the ocean may be hazardous for several hours, the Tsunami Warning Centre said.
Following an initial warning, the centre downgraded its Watch status on Hawaii to a advisory alert. It said: "Based on all available data a major tsunami is not expected to strike the state of Hawaii. However ... sea level changes and strong currents may occur along all coasts that could be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore at beaches and in harbours and marinas.
"The threat may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival," it said. The estimated earliest arrival of the initial wave is at 3.11am Hawaii Standard Time (HST) on 17 September.
Chile's copper mining operations not damaged
Chile's state copper miner Codelco said none of its workers were injured in the earthquake and that there was no damage to its installations following the quake. Codelco is the world's top copper exporter.
Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.L) also said that there has been no damage to its flagship Los Pelambres copper mine, Reuters reports.
In February 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in central-southern Chile saw a massive tsunami. More than 500 people were killed.