A survivor is rescued in Concepcion.
A survivor is rescued in Concepcion. AP Photo
The immediate danger is over. Now it's on to the difficult and risky work of rescue and recovery after one of history's strongest earthquakes.
The magnitude 8.8 temblor that struck central Chile early Saturday, the news of which we followed here most of yesterday, killed at 300 people and has left an unknown number trapped in rubble. And as the Associated Press says, the shockwave "sent a tsunami racing halfway around the world."
(Update at 5:20 p.m. ET: As feared, the death toll is rising. More than 700 deaths have been confirmed.)
Fortunately, the waves generated by that tsunami were not as large as had been feared, sparing Hawaii, Japan, Russia and other places along the Pacific from damage. The National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has lifted all advisories, warnings and watches for the region.
From Chile and neighboring nations:
— The New York Times reports that more than 1.5 million people have been displaced and that the death toll is expected to rise.
— The BBC says that "There are reports that dozens of people are trapped in the rubble of a building that collapsed in Concepcion, close to the epicentre. Strong aftershocks have continued to rock Santiago and other areas."
— The Los Angeles Times writes that at least 1 million buildings were damaged.
On last evening's All Things Considered, meanwhile, NPR's Richard Harris reported about why, even though this was a far stronger earthquake and even though it did do signficant damage, yesterday's event was far less of a human catastrophe than the Jan. 12 quake in Haiti.
In Haiti, Richard says, "the energy from that earthquake was very heavily concentrated and it was extremely close to Port-au-Prince — the capital city — so it was very, very close to structures. Many — millions of people were really within intense shaking zones."
In Chile, says Richard, "this was a much more diffused earthquake. ... It was very broadly spread out. And so the energy, even though a tremendous amount of energy came out, there wasn't anyone that close by and obviously, there were still deaths and still destruction of property but nothing compared with Haiti where everyone was right on top of that fault and, in fact, where people weren't expecting an earthquake at all. And, of course, we've all heard the stories about how badly constructed Port-au-Prince was."
Many reports and commments about this latest natural disaster are flowing into Twitter (use #Chile to see them). And NPR's Andy Carvin has set up a Twitter list of them there.