SANTIAGO, CHILE (ABC) - A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early on Saturday, killing nearly 80 people, collapsing buildings and setting off a tsunami. Tsunami warnings were issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many Pacific islands.
A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles off the Chilean coast, said Chile President Michele Bachelet. Bachelet said the death toll stood at 78 and rising. Officials had no information on the number of people injured. She declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile.
In the two and a-half hours following the 90-second quake, the US Geological Survey reported 11 aftershocks, five of them measuring 6.0 or above. Bachelet urged people to avoid traveling since traffic lights were down to avoid causing more fatalities.
In the capital city of Santiago, the airport director said the airport was shut down and will remain closed for at least the next 24 hours.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake hit at 3:34 a.m. In Santiago, modern buildings are built to withstand earthquakes, but many older ones were heavily damaged, including the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church, whose bell tower collapsed.
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