Tsunami alert issued for Hawaii
Tsunami alert issued for Hawaii by the Pacific Tsunami Warning CenterPacific Tsunami Warning Center

A tsunami warning has been issued after a powerful earthquake hit the coast of central Chile. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre warned that "widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible."

In an update, the centre said Tsunami threat warnings have been issued for Chile where waves reaching more than three meters above the tide level are possible along some coasts.

Tsunami waves reaching one to three meters above the tide level are also possible along some coasts of French Polynesia, it said. It has also issued a Tsunami Watch for Hawaii.

The earthquake which hit the coast of central Chile, about 246km (153 miles) north-west of Santiago. caused buildings to sway in the capital Santiago. There were no immediate reports of damage, according to Chile's emergency office, Reuters said. The quake was 5km (4.8 miles) below the surface.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and a preliminary assessment from the US Geological Survey have said that it was an 8.3 magnitude earthquake. Reuters said Chilean officials however have said that it was a 7.9 magnitude tremor.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said: "Based on all available data a Tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter. An investigation is underway to determine if there is a tsunami threat to Hawaii."

It said if Tsunami waves impact Hawaii, the estimated earliest arrival of the first Tsunami wave is at 3.06am HST on 17 September.

The centre said it will issue hourly or sooner messages as conditions warrant or until the threat to Hawaii has passed.