- (Photo: AP Images / Sebastian Martinez)
A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake has rocked Chile, killing at least 78 people.
The quake on Saturday struck off the coast of the South American country, causing extensive damage and triggering tsunamis.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a Pacific-wide tsunami warning, putting 53 nations and territories, including most of Central and South America, Hawaii and Australia, on the alert. The U.S. West Coast is also under threat.
"Everybody is under a warning because the wave, we know, is on its way. Everybody is at risk now," Geophysicist Victor Sardina told Reuters.
The Hawaiian islands could expect waves of six feet in some places, according to Sardina.
Saturday's quake is the most powerful to hit Chile since 1960, when the largest recorded quake (magnitude 9.5) ever killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless. The latest quake struck at 3:34 a.m. local time 200 miles southwest of the capital, Santiago.
Aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater have continued to rattle the country's coast.
Chile is prone to earthquakes. Many buildings there are built to withstand tremors but the early morning quake still caused heavy damage on the country, as older buildings collapsed.
President Michele Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" and said the death toll is still rising, according to The Associated Press. Chile has not asked for aid from other countries, she said.