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Chile: Powerful 8.8-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Country

At 3:34 a.m. local time, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.8 struck off the coast of the Maule region in Chile. The earthquake was felt in the capital city of Santiago located 325km from the epicenter. Extensive damage has been reported throughout the country, and the number of casualties continues to go up. Throughout the day, aftershocks have also been felt in the region.

A blog Terremoto Chile [es] (Earthquake Chile) was quickly created by Francisco soon after the earthquake hit. In addition to posting recommendations on what citizens should do following the earthquake [es], he has been collecting and linking to various Twitpic pictures.

Photo of damage to Nuestra Señora de la Divina Providencia Church in Santiago. Taken by Julio Costa Zambelli and used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo of damage to Nuestra Señora de la Divina Providencia Church in Santiago. Taken by Julio Costa Zambelli and used under a Creative Commons license.

Near the epicenter, Robinson Esparza of the citizen newspaper El aMaule [es], part of the Diarios Ciudadanos [es] network has been updating a post with the latest regional and national news [es]. Many comments have been worrying about family members in areas outside the capital, and this lack of communication has continued to be an issue for relatives trying to contact family and friends in places where electricity and phone lines have been affected. Ign. Rodríguez de R. (@micronauta) writes about this frustration:

tratando horas d comunicarme con familia en Valparaíso, la red fija telefónica VTR es desastrosa, no se les debería permitir dar servicio :@

trying for hours to communicate with family in Valparaíso, the fixed telephone line of (the company) VTR is disastrous, they shouldn't let them provide service :@

Those who have been posting on the Terremoto Chile blog have also created a Twitter account called Ayuda Chile [es] (Help Chile) in which information from other Twitter users who are looking for family members are collected and re-tweeted. Some Twitter users such as Pablo González Carcey have also offered to call relatives [es] for those such as Daniela Alvarado who was unable to reach her brother in Chile. He follows up:

@DaniAlvaradoA hice los llamados y tu familia esta bien! Abrazos

@DaniAlvaradoA, I made the phone call and your family is fine! Hugs

After daybreak, more images of the damage soon appearing online. Claudio Olivares went on a walking tour of Santiago to survey the damage and uploaded the photos on Owly, as did Costanza Campos, who took some photos of the damage to some of Santiago's churches.

YouTube user Franciso Vivallo Sainz took the following video of the collapse of a platform in the Bilbao Towers in Las Condes neighborhood of Santiago:

There are already tsunami warnings issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for locations bordering the Pacific Ocean.

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