Chile regrets panic triggered by mistaken tsunami warning after quake

2021-01-24 03:40:26 GMT2021-01-24 11:40:26(Beijing Time) Sina English

Authorities in Chile said onSaturday they regretted spreading panic with a mistaken tsunamiwarning calling for people to get out of coastal areas followingan earthquake in Antarctica.

The interior ministry said on Twitter that a tremor ofmagnitude 7.1 struck at 8.36pm 216 km northeast of theO'Higgins Chilean scientific base and called for the coastalregions of Antarctica to be evacuated because of a tsunami risk.

The ministry also sent a message to cellphones around thecountry urging people to abandon coastal areas, though theministry later said it was sent in error.

"We want to provide peace of mind to the population, tellthem that it is not necessary to evacuate the entire nationalterritory, only the Antarctic base," Miguel Ortiz of theministry's National Emergency Office (ONEMI) told a newsconference.

He said the agency regretted the inconvenience caused by itsmessages, which he blamed on a technical error.

The tsunami warning for Antarctica was later lifted.

People in coastal cities including La Serena, to the northof Santiago, and Valparaiso, started to leave areas close to thecoast after the warning until reports started appearing that itwas a false alarm.

But as Chileans were reacting to the warning, a secondtremor, of magnitude 5.6, struck the Chile-Argentina borderregion, at 9.07pm, the GFZ German Research Center forGeosciences said, at a depth of 133 km and 30km east ofSantiago.

No damage was reported from either quake.

The second one was close to Codelco's Andina and Tenientecopper mines and Anglo American PLC's Los Bronces.

The Chilean mining regulator Sernageomin said that workers,mining operations and facilities had reported no problems afterthe quake.

Sernageomin said that following the first quake, 80 peoplewere evacuated from Chile's main base in the Antarctic, thePresidente Eduardo Frei Montalva Base on Fildes Peninsula westof King George Island, and 55 more from three other bases, alongwith five foreign bases.

The army said no damage was reported at the Antarctic base.