Two dead after very strong and shallow M6.7 earthquake hits Coquimbo, Chile


A very strong earthquake registered by CSN as M6.7 hit near Coquimbo, Chile at 01:32 UTC on January 20, 2019 (22:32 local time, January 19). The agency is reporting a depth of 50.1 km (31 miles). USGS is reporting M6.7 at a depth of 53 km (32 miles). This earthquake can have a medium humanitarian impact based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability.

The epicenter was located 15.6 km (9.7 miles) SSW of Coquimbo (population 161 317), 25.2 km (15.7 miles) SW of La Serena (population 154 521), 62 km (38 miles) NNW of Ovalle (population 77 138), and 68 km (43 miles) W of Vicuna (population 13 496), Chile.

There are about 610 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles), 190 000 within 20 km (12.4 miles) and less than 1 000 within 5 km (3.1 miles).

424 000 people are estimated to have felt very strong shaking, 96 000 strong, 105 000 moderate and 2 760 000 light.

The USGS issued a yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. Some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localized. Past yellow alerts have required a local or regional level response.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though vulnerable structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are adobe block and concrete wall construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides and liquefaction that might have contributed to losses.

Two residents of Coquimbo suffered cardiac arrests as a result of the quake, the police said.

Damage was reported across the region as well as landslides on national highways. A huge boulder has reportedly destroyed a house in Andacollo.

Residents of Coquimbo and Serena rushed to high ground after the quake, and returned back after authorities ruled out a tsunami.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM


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