A massive earth quake measuring 8.2 on the Richter scale hit the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile on Tuesday night. A tsunami warning has been issued in all the coastal countries nearby and evacuation procedures are in effect. There have been no warning signs for Australia so far.
Coastal areas of Chile and Peru are reportedly being evacuated after the earth quake triggered fears of a tsunami. A warning has also been issued to other countries in the region which include Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.
Other countries like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras are closely monitoring the situation. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology tsunami warning centre there is no threat to Australia so far.
Despite the magnitude of the earth quake no loss of life or severe damage to property or infrastructure has been reported. There are some reports of landslides and consequent road blocks and traffic jams. Many aftershocks were reported in the first few hours following the earth quake.
An earth quake with similar intensity hit Chile in 2010, which reportedly claimed the lives of over 500 people and caused extensive damage to property. The earth quake had also resulted in tsunami warning in Australia.
There was no cause for alarm in Australia even in 2010 as inland flooding was not expected from the tsunami and the sea level rose by a couple of centimeters. But officials at the time had warned people not to go close to coastal areas like beaches.
The Bondi beach in Sydney was closed for a brief period of time in 2010 following the earth quake in Chile. But many curious people remained on the beach in spite of the warning. No such directions have been issued this time around.
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology tsunamis occur in Australia once every two years and most of them tend to be small and do not pose a threat to the country's coastal communities.
Australia has an independent tsunami warning service to warn the public of any potential dangers. The monitoring of possible threats is done by the Australian Tsunami Warning System or ATWS, a project jointly undertaken by the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and Attorney General's Department.
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