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Last Updated: Saturday February 27 2010 16:02 GMT

Massive earthquake hits Chile

Chile earthquake

A massive earthquake with an 8.8 magnitude has hit Chile in South America.

It's difficult to estimate because of the chaos there, but at least 120 people are said to have been killed.

It struck in the middle of the night off the coast of Chile, about 56 miles north-east of the city of Concepcion.

Buildings have fallen, telephone lines are down, some hospitals have been evacuated and the international airport is closed and all flights cancelled.

The President of Chile has declared a state of catatstrophe in the country, and she's asked people to be calm and to stay in their homes.

Map
A map of where the earthquake struck

It's become very difficult to travel because lots of bridges near where the quake struck are down.

It's the biggest earthquake to hit Chile for 50 years.

Tsunami warnings

Earthquake experts warned that the tremor could trigger huge waves in the Pacific Ocean, affecting countries thousands of miles away from Chile like Australia and New Zealand.

They say the tsunami alerts are particularly serious for Hawaii and for Easter Island.

Earthquake history

Rubble from earthquake in central Santiago -
Buildings were damaged in the capital Santiago

Chile has a history of being affected by earthquakes.

The country saw the biggest earthquake of the 20th century when a 9.5 magnitude quake struck the city of Valdivia in 1960.

The earthquake that hit last night is stronger than the one that hit Haiti in January.

But Chile is a richer country and the emergency services are responding more quickly to the disaster.