An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the northern coast of Chile on Tuesday evening, killing six people and prompting officials to send military leaders into the region for help.

The quake struck at around 9 p.m. local time close to the city of Iquique, causing landslides, multiple fires, and at least 300 female inmates to escape from prison. This morning, authorities called off the last of the tsunami alerts this morning, allowing more than 900,000 displaced people from low-lying areas to return to their homes. Sadly, the death toll from the earthquake rose to six overnight, Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo confirmed in a televised statement.

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President Michelle Bachelet is now sending various branches of the armed forces to the region to lead efforts to maintain order and guard against looting. Air-force troops were also bolstering police who were guarding supermarkets and gas stations in the area.

Though there was some destruction sustained during the earthquake, including blocked roads and a destroyed airport, the government reported no major damage hours after the tremor. Though the city of Iquique is known as a copper-exporting port, the mining companies said their sites suffered no harm.  The quake was also felt in Bolivia and Peru, and 6-foot waves reportedly hit the Chilean coast.

Tsunami warnings and watches were initially put into place for 11 Latin American countries, but only remained in Chile and Peru for an extended period of time before being called off this morning.

So terrifying ... I can't even imagine what it must have been like for all those families to have experienced that earthquake, particularly those situated right in the most vulnerable area. An ordeal like this--which is totally beyond anyone's control--is always difficult and devastating to go through, especially for the people who have suffered damage to their homes or worse, lost one of their loved ones. I only hope that those in the area get the help they need to recover from this quickly. My heart goes out to all of the victims' family members and to the entire affected community.

Image via Getty Images

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About the author

Michelle Regalado is a Staff Writer at MamásLatinas. She loves reading, travel, pop culture, and writing about anything and everything.

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