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Blogging GREAT Chile Earthquake/Tsunamis; Pres. Bachelet A Steady Leader; Japan Prepares For Tsunamis


by Linda Milazzo

UPDATED: Feb, 28, 2010/5:40AM (local Chile time)

CNN International is now reporting 101 aftershocks have been recorded in Chile since yesterday's 8.8 earthquake with 7 at 6.0 or higher. Over 300 fatalities have been reported with 60 reported missing.

Japan is seeing tsunami flooding on its northern island of Hokkaido. The tsunami projection from NOAA reports a wave of 4 feet has just arrived. 320,000 coastal residents have been evacuated. The tsunami warning for Russia has been lifted.

UPDATED: Feb, 28, 2010/3:40AM (local Chile time)
The death toll in Chile is now confirmed at 300. Chile has not yet asked for help from other countries. More than one million buildings have been damaged. More than a half million houses have been completely destroyed and two million people affected. President Bachelet has been coordinating services steadily for nearly 24 hours since 5AM yesterday.

UPDATED: Feb, 28, 2010/12:00AM (local Chile time)
CNN reports there have been 67 aftershocks in Chile, many over 6.0 and thus far over 240 people have died in the quake.

Japan is preparing for possible tsunamis, employing extreme precaution having suffered massive damage in 1960 after Chile's magnitude 9.5 earthquake and resultant tsunamis. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese coast residents are reported evacuating inland from the Pacific coast.

UPDATED: Feb, 27, 2010/8:20 (EST)
CNN and NOAA report dangerous tsunami warnings still exist for coastal Russia and Japan.

UPDATED: Feb. 27, 2010/9PM (Chile local time)
President Michelle Bachelet delivers a calming speech to the people of Chile, reassuring them that they are a strong and tested population that has withstood adversity before. The President stated she had visited six main regions that were severely affected by the quake. She said schools would be suspended until March 8th, and public gatherings temporarily halted as damage assessment were made.

President Bachelet, a pediatrician, promised to continue providing health care as needed and to restore essential services as quickly as possible. The President assured Chile's citizens that services to hard-hit difficult to reach areas would be routed by sea.

UPDATED: Feb. 27, 2010/7:45PM (EST)
CNN reports Pacific Tsunami Warning Center lifts tsunami warning for Hawaii, saying Hawaii "dodged a bullet."

UPDATED: Feb. 27, 2010/5:30PM (EST)
Santiago, Chile: The death toll in Chile has risen to 214. Powerful tsunamis have been reported. President Bachelet to make major address her nation.

UPDATED: Feb. 27, 2010 12:00PM (local Hawaii time)
As reported by CNN, via Hawaii affiliate KHOU, first tsunamis reported in Hawaii by Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. First wave reported at one meter in Hilo. Second small surge also reported. PTWC says they're in a "wait and see" posture - making no absolute predictions.

UPDATED: Feb. 27, 2010/11:30AM (local Hawaii time)
As a precaution, all boats have been removed from Hilo harbor. CNN via its Hawaii affiliate KITV, reports signs of swelling and change in color in Hilo's Wailoa River, but no waves visible at this time.

UPDATED: Feb. 27, 2010/10:50AM (local Hawaii time)
Hawaii awaits first tsunami which could hit in 10 minutes at 11:05 (local Hawaii time) in Hilo Bay, then moving to Honolulu and onward along the coast. Wave sizes are speculative at this time with expected intervals of 20 minutes between each wave. Hilo, which is virtually flat land, has had experience with vast destruction from previous tsunamis - including the devastating tsunamis in 1960 after Chile's massive 9.5 earthquake that generated killer 34 foot waves.

UPDATED: Feb. 27, 2010/1:50PM (EST)
In a 1:51 (EST) statement before reporters at the White House, President Barack Obama sent his and the First Lady's deepest condolences to the Chilean people and offered to provide service to Chile, a close American ally, as needed. He also cautioned Americans living near possibly affected coastlines in Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States to follow all tsunami related instructions to ensure their personal safety. The President's statement was short. He took no questions from reporters - though one reporter fired off an unrelated question on embattled NY veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel. The President did not respond.

UPDATED: 3:40PM (local Chile time)
President Bachelet (on CNN International) says the quake damage in the capital of Santiago is widepread. The President has received calls from leaders of other countries and sees this as a world involved crisis. The President reports death tolls in the 80s, but CNN now reports the death toll at 147 (death tolls are approximate).

The tsunami reporter for NOAA says this is a dramatic situation and people in tsunami warning areas should move away from coastal areas. Tsunamis come in series of waves. Hawaii may expect waves today at 11:00 AM (Hawaii local time) at heights ranging from one and a half feet to a possible height of seven and a half feet depending on variations in coastline. At this time these projections are speculative considering the extent of this uncommonly large and fluid disaster.

The structural damage in Chile has been enormous with roads, buildings and bridges crumbling. Some coastal areas are believed to be under water. President Bachelet, whose Presidency ends in two weeks (March 10, 2010) has been working non-stop to keep Chile's citizens as informed as possible despite the level of the catastrophe and inability to do a full damage assessment. A Chilean government damage assessment and planning meeting is planned for 5 PM (EST).

President Obama is expected to issue a statement on behalf of the United States shortly at 2 PM (EST). Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Reporter, says Navy officials report that at least four Navy war ships will move out to see to get out of the way of possible tsunamis.

UPDATED: 9:50AM (local Chile time)
The death toll has been raised to 78. All flights into Santiago are currently diverted for the next 24 hours due to airport terminal damage. Tsunami warnings have been extended to dozens of countries as far away as Russia. There are also warnings for Hawaii and American Samoa and advisories along the coastline of the U.S. Northern Pacific. According to CNN via Justin Fujioka, Meteorologist at KITV, Hawaii, evacuation sirens will be sounded at 6AM local Hawaii time to advise residents to move inland from the coast.

*********************************************
Feb. 27, 2010/3:57AM (EST)
A massive 8.8 "GREAT" earthquake, reported by live broadcast from Chile, hit approximately 60 kilometers from Concepcion, the nation's second largest city with a metropolitan population of 670,000 at approximately 3:34AM local Chilean time. The closest town to the quake epicenter is Maule. The main bridge connecting North and South Chile has been reported completely wiped out, making travel across Chile extremely difficult.

A tsunami has been preliminarily reported by CNN. As of 4:00PM (EST) there were 6 reported deaths, confirmed by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. However 4 more deaths (as yet unconfirmed) have since been reported by local Chilean newscasters. President Bachelet stated that additional deaths are expected. The President has mobilized three teams to the affected areas.

The earthquake was felt as far away as Buenos Aires, Argentina, where large buildings reported swaying. Tsunami "warnings" have been issued for surrounding countries Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica. Lesser tsunami "watches" have been issued for numerous countries in the region. as well as Antarctica. The most specific tsunami warnings are for Chile and Peru. According to CNN, dangerous ocean wave heights have been reported.

An 8.8 earthquake is considered a GREAT earthquake and is approximately 800 times more powerful than the recent 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. However, since Chile is a known earthquake region, its buildings are better constructed than those that collapsed in Haiti. This region of Chile is the same region that experienced the devastating 9.5 earthquake in 1960.

The deeper the quake, the less damage to the earth's surface. Because the Concepcion quake is more shallow (at approximately 22 feet from the earth's surface), this quake is expected to cause significant damage. A number of aftershocks have already been reported at 6.9, 6.1 and 6.0, as determined by U.S. Geological Services.

Concepcion is approximately 200 miles from Santiago, the capital of Chile, where damage is also reported. CNN reports that information from Concepcion may not be immediately forthcoming due to the significant magnitude of this quake.

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