Page last updated at 19:05 GMT, Tuesday, 14 June 2005 20:05 UK

Quake curtails Chile leader trip

An injured man is carried away by paramedics in Iquique, Chile
The coastal town of Iquique suffered the worst of the damage

Chilean President Ricardo Lagos has cut short an overseas trip after at least eight people were killed in a powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Chile.

Mr Lagos had met the Swedish prime minister in Stockholm but was heading home, a Swedish official said.

Chile's government rushed aid and senior officials to the northern Andean region where the earthquake struck.

Three people were killed in falling buildings and five died when rocks crushed their vehicle, officials said.

In the coastal town of Iquique, hundreds of people ran into the streets in fear of collapsing buildings and even a tsunami.

The earthquake, which lasted nearly a minute, was also felt in neighbouring Bolivia and Peru.

'Vulnerable region'

Iquique, which is 115km (70 miles) from the epicentre, and two other coastal towns, Arica and Antofagasta, appeared to have suffered the worst damage.

Walls... started cracking... and cars started jumping
Pablo Volenski, Iquique

Your quake experiences

The Chilean government said the region had suffered power cuts, telephone communication was down and several houses had collapsed.

The authorities by-passed blocked roads by flying 15 tons of relief supplies directly to the stricken area on military cargo planes, the government's Emergency Bureau said.

Relief workers were trying to find shelter for those made homeless by the disaster, it said.

"We cannot exclude the possibility of more casualties," said Interior Minister Jorge Correa.

The BBC's Clinton Porteous in Santiago says Chile is prone to earthquakes.

In 1960, it suffered the world's largest recorded earthquake which resulted in thousands of deaths.

But, our correspondent says, this latest quake occurred more than 100km underground and is one of the key reasons the death toll is relatively low.

Were you affected by the earthquake? Send us your experiences using the form below.

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Deadly history of earthquakes
22 Feb 05 |  Special Reports
How earthquakes happen
01 Jun 09 |  Science & Environment
Chile quake increases suffering
16 Jun 00 |  Americas
Country profile: Chile
26 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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