CONCEPCION, CHILE (February 12, 2011) – A 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck near here on Friday caused no apparent damage, but frightened area residents who lived through last year’s deadly quake and resulting tsunami, said Luciano Silva, pastor of the Mission Friends Covenant Church in Tome, Chile.
The earthquake struck in almost the same spot and close to the same date as last year’s 8.8 quake and tsunami that killed at least 570 people. That earthquake occurred on February 27.
Silva said there has been no reported damage or casualties so far but, “People could not remain standing as the quake knocked them down!”
Last year’s quake and tsunami destroyed much of the city of Dichato. “The epicenter of Friday’s quake was only 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the site, and it was a shallow quake – only 17 kilometers in depth (10 miles) – which made the shaking more severe,” Silva said.
A youth group from Silva’s church was working Friday in a refugee camp established there following the 2010 tragedy. “We are looking for all of their parents to let them know that everyone is okay,” Silva said in an email forwarded by David and Wendy Mark, Latin America/Caribbean regional coordinators for the Evangelical Covenant Church Department of World Mission.
People in the refugee camp were moved higher into the hills following Friday’s quake. The government has said there is no possibility of a tsunami.
People remain nervous, however, because there have been continuous aftershocks, said Silva.
That fear may affect worship services this weekend, Silva said. “We have baptisms scheduled for this Sunday, but we may have to make some changes since those who experienced last year’s tsunami are now very afraid of the ocean.”