Earthquake Sways Buildings in Santiago, Chile


Chile Earthquake

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A strong earthquake caused buildings to sway in Chile’s capital on Monday as thousands of people marched in the city’s center to demand better social services and less economic inequality.

Last month police responded to stone-throwing demonstrators by spraying water cannons and firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Similar scenes were repeated in towns and cities all along the long, narrow South American country of 18 million people.

Millions of students were still unable to attend classes, several subway stations were shut and long lines wound from gas stations and supermarkets after many stores were torched or destroyed.

The unrest erupted when students began to jump subway station turnstiles to protest a 4-cent subway fare rise that the Chilean government said was needed to cope with rising oil prices and a weaker currency.

Most of the protests have been peaceful with demonstrators of all ages banging pots to demand reforms. But the unrest also involved riots, arson and looting that have wracked Chile for six days, nearly paralyzing a country long seen as an oasis of stability.

There were no immediate reports of damages from the quake and the navy discounted any threat of a tsunami.

The U.S. Geological Survey put its preliminary magnitude at 6.0 and said its epicenter was located 17.4 miles (28 kilometers) southwest of Illapel, Chile near the country’s central coast. It had a depth of 49 kilometers.

Authorities in Chile said the earthquake was felt in the country’s capital and central cities. It struck amid the latest in a wave of protests against the government of President Sebastián Piñera. The unrest has forced the cancellation of two major international summits, and left at least 20 people have died in violent clashes, looting and arson.

Chile is located in the so-called “Ring of Fire,” which makes it one of the most seismic countries in the world. An 8.8-magnitude quake, one of the strongest ever recorded, and the tsunami it unleashed, killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts.


Dean Nestor

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