Tsunami warning in effect for Hawaii after Chile quake

SANTIAGO, Chile (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is under a tsunami warning Saturday morning after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Chile. The quake hit 197 miles southwest of the capital, Santiago at 8:34 PM Hawaii time. Several major aftershocks have occurred since the initial quake.

Chile's government says 76 people are confirmed dead in a giant earthquake that has collapsed buildings and set off a tsunami. The death toll comes from the deputy interior minister, Patricio Rosende. His boss, Edmundo Perez Yoma says: "the death toll will continue rising."

The magnitude-8.8 earthquake has caused a huge wave that reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands off the Chilean coast. Tsunami warnings have been issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many Pacific islands.

A tsunami is a series of long ocean waves. Each individual wave crest can last five to 15 minutes or more and extensively flood coastal areas. The danger can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent waves arrive. Tsunami wave heights cannot be predicted and the first wave may not be the largest.

Tsunami waves efficiently wrap around islands. All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face. The trough of a tsunami waves may temporarily expose the sea floor but the area will quickly flood again. Extremely strong and unusual near shore currents can accompany a tsunami. Debris picked up and carried by a tsunami amplifies its destructive power. Simultaneous high tides or high surf can significantly increase the tsunami hazard.

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