Authorities have raised a tsunami alert for Hawaii and told residents to brace for a possible onslaught. The warning came off following the magnitude 8.2 earthquake that struck off Chile on Tuesday night. At least five have died.
An "expanding tsunami warning" has been issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center covering the coasts of Chile and Peru.
Destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter, the tsunami "could also be a threat to more distant coasts," the agency said. It explained an "expanding" warning meant that waves could spread rapidly in the opposite direction as wave events unfold.
The Pacific tsunami center said some waves could reach the Hawaii coast by 3:24 am (9:24 am.ET).
"No action is required at this time," it said. But "there is a possibility that Hawaii could be elevated to a watch or warning status."
The US Geological Survey placed the quake as having an 8.2 magnitude strength. Chile's National Seismological Centre, however, placed it at 8.3.
It struck 99 km northwest of the port city of Iquique at 8:46 pm local time (10:46a m AEDT). Iquique is a major port city with a population of about 182,000 people.
Five people have already been confirmed dead, while three others were seriously injured.
It has also caused landslides, creating traffic jams among fleeing people. Blackouts and telephone outages have also been reported.
In the midst of the chaos, 300 female prisoners had escaped from a prison facility in Iquique, according to The Guardian.
"We have taken action to ensure public order in the case of Iquique, where we've had a massive escape of more than 300 female prisoners from the Iquique jail, so that the armed forces and police can coordinate and provide tranquility and security to the residents," Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said.
The armed forces had recaptured less than 50 so far.
Eight strong aftershocks have been felt, including a 6.2 tremor. Mario Pardo, a seismologist at the University of Chile, said more aftershocks are to expected. A larger quake could also occur anytime.
Australia is safe from the force of the tsunami.