More than 900,000 people fled Chile's coastal regions after a huge quake triggered tsunami warnings, emergency officials said Wednesday.
"I ask for people's understanding and that they follow instructions from officials," Ricardo Toro, director of Chile's ONEMI emergency office, said during an early-morning press conference.
Sirens and text messages warned residents of the potential tsunami, triggering the exodus inland to "safe zones."
Chile’s navy said the first tsunami hit the coast within 45 minutes of the quake. A wave measuring almost six feet was generated off the northern coast, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
At least three fires broke out in the port city of Iquique after the magnitude-8.2 magnitude quake hit off the coast, interior minister Rodrigo Peñailillo said during the same press conference. Aftershocks continued to shake much of the northern region throughout the night.
- F. Brinley Bruton