Tue, Nov 20, 2007 - Page 7 News List

More aftershocks follow last week's earthquake in Chile

AFP , SANTIAGO

More heavy aftershocks shook northern Chile on Sunday following last week's deadly 7.7-magnitude earthquake as the government said it was working to restore water supplies and to prevent the outbreak of disease.

Two shocks registering 5.5 to 5.6 on the moment magnitude scale hit early on Sunday, one east of Arica close to the border of Peru, and a second 60km offshore, near the coastal city of Antofagasta, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

PERU TEMBLOR

To the north in Peru, a temblor hit the southern province of Pisco, near Ica, which was already hard hit by a quake on Aug. 15, the Geophysical Institute of Peru said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in Peru.

Meanwhile, the city of Tacna near the Chilean border was rocked by a quake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale.

On Saturday, eight quakes were registered between 4.6 and 6.0 magnitude in the Antofagasta area, according to the USGS.

Two people were killed, some 15,000 injured and 4,000 structures damaged in Wednesday's major quake in Chile's arid north.

As the aftershocks hit on Thursday, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was touring Tocopilla, where Wednesday's quake claimed two lives. The small port city is close to the epicenter of Wednesday's temblor, which was located 1,260km north of the Chilean capital Santiago.

"I see a lot of despair," said Bachelet, who inspected a Tocopilla hospital that was seriously damaged by the earthquake.

"There is fear, there is despair, there is need," she said.

Tocopilla Mayor Luis Moncayo said at least 4,000 people were left homeless by the quake, which "completely demolished" 1,200 buildings. He said the local hospital was damaged and patients were being seen at a field hospital.

NEW SYSTEM

The US Geological Survey said Wednesday's quake measured 7.7 on the moment magnitude scale, which measures the amount of movement on the underground fault and the area of the fault that ruptured. Many seismologists now use that system rather than the scale, which measures the size based upon the amount of ground shaking.

On Sunday, Chile's National Emergencies Office said it was restoring water services in the affected region, but that supplies would be rationed to prevent heavily damaged pipes from collapsing, especially in Tocopilla.

Up the Pacific coast in Ecuador, just the rumor that an earthquake had hit there on Sunday prompted locals in the town of Esmeraldas to panic, many of them taking to the streets.

Media reports said that one person died of a heart attack after someone drove by on a motorbike inaccurately warning townspeople a tsunami was coming.

Ecuador's Geophysical Institute took the unusual step of denying that an earthquake hit it on Sunday.

Naval oceanographer Mario Proano also took to Ecuador's television airwaves to deny that authorities determined a tsunami would hit Ecuador's coast.

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