Chile leader evacuates as second big quake strikes

The BBC's Ignacio De Los Reyes said 7.6 tremor was one of "100 aftershocks" to hit the region since Tuesday

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A powerful 7.6 magnitude earthquake has rocked northern Chile, just over 24 hours after an 8.2 tremor killed six people, destroyed 2,600 houses and led to mass evacuations.

A tsunami alert in Chile and Peru was again issued, but was later lifted after waves of 2.4ft (0.7 meters) hit coastal areas.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was among those evacuated on Thursday.

The quake is the strongest of several aftershocks following Tuesday's tremor.

There have been no reports of damage from the latest quake.

The aftershock caused buildings to wobble and people to run into the streets in the port of Iquique, which was one of the cities hit by Tuesday night's quake.

The latest quake was centred 23km (14 miles) south of Iquique.

President Michelle Bachelet was visiting the northern city of Arica to assess damage, when a second quake struck

The US Geological Survey said the aftershock had a depth of 20km (12 miles) and was felt across the border in southern Peru, where people in the cities of Tacna and Arequipa also fled buildings.

'Tremendous example'

President Bachelet had earlier praised the "calm behaviour" of residents following Tuesday evening's quake.

Chile is one of those countries that expects to experience large quakes. It's only four years since the 8.8 event at Maule much further to the south.

The drivers are the same. Chile runs the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates. These are vast slabs of the Earth's surface that grind past each other at a rate of about 80mm per year. The Nazca plate, which makes up the Pacific Ocean floor in this region, is being pulled down and under the South American coast. It makes the region one of the most seismically active on the globe.

This particular event occurred in what seismologists refer to as the Iquique seismic gap - a segment of the plate boundary that has been relatively quiet in recent times. The last big event here was the magnitude 8.8 tremor of 1877, just to the south, which claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Nearly a million people were evacuated across the country after the authorities issued a tsunami warning.

"I think you have shown us all a tremendous example," Ms Bachelet said during a visit to the worst affected areas.

Ms Bachelet declared two northern provinces - Arica and Parinacota, and Tarapaca - disaster areas.

Tuesday's quake struck at 20:46 local time (23:46 GMT) about 86km (52 miles) north-west of the city of Iquique, a mining area,

"We are here to recognise the calm behaviour of the people of Iquique, who showed great civic responsibility, as did those of Arica," said Ms Bachelet.

Fires destroyed some businesses in the area and fishermen found their boats sunken and damaged in Iquique harbour.

Ms Bachelet called on residents to "work together now" to repair the damage caused by the quake.

Waves of up to 2.1m (about 6ft) hit some areas.

A woman tries to protect a child as the 8.2 magnitude quake strikes a restaurant in Arica

Some 40,000 people in Tarapaca remain without power, said Ricardo Toro of Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi).

Jail escape

Hours after the first major earthquake, Chile's army was deployed to Iquique after some 293 inmates escaped from a women's jail.

Sunken fishing boats in Iquique, northern Chile, on 2 April 2014 Despite the strength of the quake, the region appears to have escaped significant damage
Flooded seafront in Iquique on 2 April 2014 Two-metre-high waves hit Chile's coastline, but most tsunami alerts have now been lifted

Mr Toro said that 131 had now returned voluntarily.

Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world.

Central and southern areas of the country were hit by a powerful earthquake of magnitude 8.8 followed by a tsunami that devastated scores of towns in February 2010. More than 700 people were killed.

In 1960 an area of Chile south of Concepcion was hit by a 9.5 magnitude which caused about 1,655 deaths and a tsunami in Hawaii and Japan.

Map Map of Tuesday's 8.2 quake

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