Globe Live Media, Monday, January 25, 2021
Chilean authorities regret having caused panic with an erroneous tsunami warning asking people to leave coastal areas after an earthquake in Antarctica.
On Saturday night at 8:36 pm, the country’s Interior Ministry tweeted a warning that a 7.1 magnitude earthquake had occurred 216 kilometers northeast of the Chilean scientific base of O’Higgins in Punta of the Antarctic Peninsula. In its tweet, the Ministry called for the coastal regions of Antarctica to be evacuated due to the risk of tsunami.
But the Chilean Ministry mistakenly sent the tsunami alert message to cell phones across the country, urging people to leave coastal areas.
“We want to reassure the population, tell them that it is not necessary to evacuate the entire national territory, only the Antarctic base,” said Miguel Ortiz, from the Ministry’s National Emergency Office (ONEMI) at a press conference.
He said the agency regretted the inconvenience caused by its messages, which it attributed to a technical error. The tsunami warning for Antarctica was subsequently lifted.
But clarification on the tsunami warning came too late to curb the panic in Chile. People in coastal cities such as La Serena, north of Santiago, and Valparaíso, began to abandon areas near the coast after the warning, until reports indicated that it was a false alarm.
As Chileans reacted to the warning, a second earthquake, of magnitude 5.6, struck the Chile-Argentina border region, according to the German Center for Geosciences Research GFZ.
The earthquake occurred at a depth of 133 km and took place 30 km east of Santiago.
None of the earthquakes reported damage.
Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin) said that after the first earthquake, 80 people were evacuated from Chile’s main base in Antarctica, the Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva base on the Fildes peninsula west of King George Island. , and 55 more from three other bases, along with personnel from five other foreign bases.
The second earthquake occurred near the Andina, Codelco and Teniente copper mines and Anglo American PLC’s Los Bronces mine.
Sernageomin said mining workers, operations and facilities had reported no problems after the earthquake.
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