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Northern coast of Chile experiences 8.2-magnitude earthquake

Landslides made travel difficult for some northern Chile residents Tuesday night.
Landslides made travel difficult for some northern Chile residents Tuesday night.

Earthquakes aren't a common occurrence, but as of lately, they have local officials and residents alert. Even if the earthquake occur hundreds of miles away, its aftershocks have the potential to reach extremely far. Such was the case in Chile's northern coast Tuesday night at 8:46 p.m. local time in Iquique, which is about 950 miles from the capital city Santiago.

The 8.2-magnitude quake comes weeks after the community felt an earthquake that registered 6.7 magnitude. Within minutes of the incident, over 900,000 locals were headed to higher ground to avoid getting caught in 6 to 7 feet tsunamis that could have occurred after the initial tremors, CNN reported. Chile's response to Tuesday's event showed that Iquique is well-versed in its continuity of operations efforts. 

"The country has faced these first emergency hours very well,"  Chile President Michelle Bachelet told reporters early Wednesday.

The latest earthquake caused limited damage because it was much more shallow than expected, only having a depth of 12.5 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey stated. Nonetheless, power went out nearly immediately and coastal areas prone to landslides from previous events did in fact experience some effects, according to reports from the Weather Channel. 

Because this particular earthquake did reach so high on the Richter scale, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) did issue warnings in parts of Hawaii, California, Oregon, Alaska and Washington.

"What we're really worried about is currents," Gerald Fryer, a geophysicist with the PTWC, told Reuters. "And occasionally you get a larger wave so it sweeps up the beach or something. If you're not ready for it you can get into difficulty and if you're in the water you can get banged about."

By Wednesday morning, most of these warnings were canceled, but the after shocks did reach La Paz, Bolivia, which is about 290 miles away. The swift evacuation of cities and towns near Iquique shows how important it is to have a strategy in place well in advance. Business continuity consultants can devise a plan that can potentially simplify any company's evacuation plans.