Backgrounder: Recent major earthquakes in Chile

10:30, February 28, 2010      

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A massive magnitude-8.8 earthquake hit southern Chile early Saturday, killing at least 78 people and triggering a tsunami and communications and power outages.

Chile stretches along the southwestern coast of South America with the Pacific Ocean to its west. The past 500 years have witnessed some 50 major earthquakes and about 20 tsunamis in the country. Economic losses caused by earthquakes in Chile cost at least 100 million U.S. dollars each year.

Chile was shaken by the largest earthquake ever recorded, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That earthquake killed more than 1,600 people and left 2 million homeless on May 22, 1960.

The following are the significant earthquakes with a Richter scale over 6.5 in the past 10 years:

On Sept. 5, 1996, a magnitude-7.1 earthquake was detected off Chile's coast with no record of injuries or deaths.

On Oct. 14, 1997, an earthquake measuring 6.8 hit the country's Fourth Region, killing eight people and injuring nearly 100. It affected more than 40,000 people and destroyed about 5,000 houses.

On June 13, 2005, a strong earthquake measuring 7.8 occurred in northern Chile within the region of high mountains, killing at least 11 people, leaving one person missing and injuring 130 others.

That same year, on Nov. 17, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake hit northern Chile though there were no reports of casualties.

On Oct. 12, 2006, a magnitude-6.5 earthquake occurred in central Chile with no reports of casualties.

On Nov. 14, 2007, two people were killed and more than 100 were injured in a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck northern Chile. A large number of houses collapsed and thousands of people were seriously affected.

On Feb. 14, 2008, a magnitude-6.6 earthquake was recorded in Chile's First Region of Tarapaca. No casualties were reported.

On Nov. 13, 2009, an earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale occurred off the coast of Chile's northern city of Iquique, knocking out power in some of its northern cities.

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