With 50 Earthquake Aftershocks Per Hour, Chileans Head Uphill

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | April 4, 2014 12:48 PM EST

Experiencing at least 50 aftershocks per hour since Tuesday's big earthquake rumbler, Chileans from the port city of Iquique have started to flock uphill.

The immediate destination is the town of Alto Hospicio which is 600 metres (2,000 feet) above sea level.

REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Residents push prams along a damaged road leading to Alto Hospicio commune after a series of aftershocks in the northern port of Iquique April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

However, residents from Iquique have to literally walk uphill. The strong 8.2-magnitude earthquake had ripped apart the surface of the 10 km (6.2 miles) road connecting Iquique to Alto Hospicio.

Residents chose to leave Iquique for the time being for the sake of their families.

"We're all walking up without water. I'm not afraid for me, but for my family, my son," Camilo Fuenzalida, who was carrying suitcases, told Reuters.

Although they claim to be already used to it, residents still can't help feel the general feeling of fear.

"For about 15 to 20 days, there had already been talk that an earthquake tsunami was on its way," Christian Montano told NBC News. "Recently, every day we've had earthquakes so we're used to it."

The fear residents feel isn't for themselves, but for the safety of their loved ones.

"If you ask me, I am from Iquique, I would say to you, no I wouldn't leave it no matter what happens," 63-year-old Iquique resident Freddy Hurtado told Reuters. "But if you ask my wife, my children, perhaps their reply would be very different."

Minutes after the earthquake struck on Tuesday, city officials immediately sounded the tsunami alarm in Iquique. A large-scale evacuation ensued, affecting over 900,000 people in all of Chile's coastal areas. 

Read: Chile Quake Preparedness is Something Worth Emulating (PHOTOS)

The strong quake also prompted the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to issue a tsunami alert for Hawaii.

Read: Tsunami Alert Raised for Hawaii as Magnitude 8.2 Earthquake Claims 5 Lives in Chile, Possible to Strike Early Morning

Mr Montano who owns a restaurant in the port city of Iquique said he immediately closed shop after the initial quake hit and then quickly walked home 12 blocks away to his apartment to check on his 17 and 9-year-old daughters who were left alone that time.

Along the way, he said he saw people crying on the streets, "but mostly they were calm."

Maria Roxana Zapata told NBC News it would be impossible to not feel afraid "after living through an 8.2 magnitude quake that lasts two minutes."

But "the whole population is used to earthquakes," Ms Zapata said. "And in a very strong earthquake where one loses their balance, everybody immediately knows to evacuate to the hills by themselves."

As of Thursday, the death tally from Chile's 2014 8.2-magnitude quake remained at six, with more than 2,600 homes damaged.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado / )
Residents push prams along a damaged road leading to Alto Hospicio commune after a series of aftershocks in the northern port of Iquique April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
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