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Thursday, June 13
The Indiana Daily Student

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More quakes hit Chile

A series of aftershocks from last month’s devastating quake rocked Chile on Thursday as a new president was sworn into office and immediately urged coastal residents to move to higher ground in case of a tsunami.

The strongest aftershock, magnitude 6.9, was nearly as strong as the quake that devastated Haiti on Jan. 12. There were no immediate reports of damages or injuries.
The Chilean Navy issued a tsunami warning while the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the aftershocks were too small to cause dangerous waves beyond Chile’s central coast.

President Sebastian Pinera was inaugurated at a congressional building in Valparaiso before the building was evacuated as a precaution. The seven aftershocks strongly swayed buildings, shook windows and sent frightened people streaming into the street.

The magnitude-6.9 aftershock is the strongest since the Feb. 27, magnitude-8.8 quake. It occurred along the same fault line, said geophysicist Don Blakeman at the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS initially estimated the aftershock’s magnitude at 7.2.

“When we get quakes in the 8 range, we would expect to see maybe a couple of aftershocks in the 7 range,” he said.

“It’s not a sign of anything different happening. But what does occur when you get these large aftershocks, typically we have a whole series of aftershocks again,” Blakeman said.

Chile’s navy issued a tsunami warning. The government’s emergency office — much criticized for failing to issue a tsunami alert that might have saved hundreds of lives from the towering waves that followed the initial quake — urged Chileans to seek higher ground even though the epicenter of Thursday’s biggest shock was inland.
Outgoing President Michelle Bachelet says she’s leaving Chile in good shape in the wake of the February quake, handing off the government to the first right-wing president in 52 years.

Pinera, a billionaire investor and Harvard-trained economist planned a working visit Thursday to the coastal city of Constitution, where the tsunami destroyed the scenic downtown, and a late-night Cabinet session.

Last month’s earthquake — the fifth-strongest since 1900 — killed 500 identified victims and potentially hundreds of others, destroyed or heavily damaged at least 500,000 homes and broke apart highways and hospitals. Repairing infrastructure alone will cost $5 billion, and overall recovery costs could soar above $15 billion.

Pinera has promised to maintain social programs created by Bachelet, who leaves office with 84 percent approval ratings.

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