Update: April 2, 6:23 a.m.
Six people are dead after a magnitude 8.2 earthquake that hit off the coast of Chile yesterday. But now, an even bigger earthquake is expected to hit at some point.
"We expect about another 8.8, 8.9 earthquake here sometime in the future. Could be tomorrow, could be in 50 years. We do not know when it is going to occur," Mark Simons a geophysicist at Caltech said.
Tuesday's quake prompted a tsunami warning for Chile's coastline as well as other South and Central American countries.
Hawaii remains under a tsunami advisory this morning. The earthquake struck about 60 miles northwest of the mining town of Iquique.
"What we expect is very small waves, and the main danger is currents, so we're asking people to stay off of the beach and out of the water," Gerard Fryer with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Emergency officials evacuated people from several port cities and tsunami warnings were issued for coastal areas of Southern and Central America. However, those warnings were cancelled a few hours later.
Update as of 9:38pm
Chile's interior minister says the death toll has risen to five from a powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake that struck off northern Chile hours ago.
The quake forced evacuations along the country's entire Pacific coast for fear of tsunamis.
Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo attributed the five deaths to heart attacks or being crushed.
Thousands have lost power, and hundreds of thousands of Chileans are spending the night away from their beds due to the evacuation order, which remains in effect for northern Chile.
Update as of 9:16pm
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- A powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off northern Chile on Tuesday night, setting off a small tsunami that forced evacuations along the country's entire Pacific coast. Officials reported two deaths and several serious injuries, but the area apparently escaped major damage as landslides blocked roads, power failed for thousands, an airport was damaged and several businesses caught fire.
About 300 inmates escaped from a women's prison in the city of Iquique, and officials said Chile's military was sending a planeload of special forces to guard against looting.
In the city of Arica, 86 miles (139 kilometers) from the quake's epicenter, hospitals were treating minor injuries, and some homes made of adobe were destroyed and 90 percent of customers were without power, authorities said.
The quake also shook modern buildings in nearby Peru and in Bolivia's high altitude capital of La Paz.
Iquique Gov. Gonzalo Prieto told Radio Cooperativa that two people were known to have died after the quake hit at 8:46 p.m. and several others had serious injuries. The mayor of Tarapaca attributed the deaths to heart attacks.
Hours later, tsunami warnings or watches remained in effect for the coasts of Peru and Chile, but were lifted for elsewhere, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. "We regard the coast line of Chile as still dangerous, so we're maintaining the warning," geophysicist Gerard Fryer told The Associated Press.
Chile's Emergency Office said its tsunami watch would remain in effect for six more hours, meaning hundreds of thousands of people along the coast would not sleep in their beds. Authorities in the U.S. state of Hawaii were on alert, but no tsunami watch was issued.
The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported the quake at 8.0, but later upgraded the magnitude. It said the quake struck 61 miles (99 kilometers) northwest of Iquique, hitting a region that has been rocked by numerous quakes over the past two weeks.
Psychiatrist Ricardo Yevenes said he was with a patient in Arica when the quake hit. "It quickly began to move the entire office, things were falling," he told local television. "Almost the whole city is in darkness."
The quake was so strong that the shaking experienced in Bolivia's capital about 290 miles (470 kilometers) away was the equivalent of a 4.5-magnitude tremor, authorities there said.
More than 10 strong aftershocks followed in the first few hours, including a 6.2 tremor. More aftershocks and even a larger quake could not be ruled out, said seismologist Mario Pardo at the University of Chile.
Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said President Michelle Bachelet was closely watching the situation and was ready to take "any measures" to ensure people's safety. Hundreds of soldiers were being deployed in the quake zone, and a flight would be leaving soon with 100 special forces on board, he added.
"We have taken action to ensure public order in the case of Iquique, where we've had a massive escape of more than 300 female prisoners from the Iquique jail, so that the armed forces and police can coordinate and provide tranquility and security to the residents," he said.
Some roads in northern Chile were blocked by landslides, causing traffic jams among people leaving the coast. But coastal residents remained calm as they head inland while waves measuring almost 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) struck their cities.
Evacuations also were ordered in Peru, where waves 2 meters above normal forced about 200 people to leave the seaside town of Boca del Rio. But there were no injuries or major damage, said Col. Enrique Blanco, the regional police chief in Tacna, a Peruvian city of 300,000 near the Chilean border. "The lights went out briefly, but were re-established," Blanco said.
Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries because just off the coast, the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate, pushing the towering Andes cordillera to ever-higher altitudes.
The latest activity began with a strong magnitude-6.7 quake on March 16 that caused more than 100,000 people to briefly evacuate low-lying areas. Hundreds of smaller quakes followed in the weeks since, keeping people on edge as scientists said there was no way to tell if the unusual string of tremors was a harbinger of an impending disaster.
The last recorded big quake to hit far northern Chile around Iquique was a devastating magnitude-8.3 in 1877. It unleashed a 24-meter-high (nearly 80-foot-high) tsunami, causing major damage along the Chile-Peru coast and fatalities as far away as Hawaii and Japan.
A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts. That quake released so much energy, it actually it shortened the Earth's day by a fraction of a second by changing the planet's rotation.
"The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth also happened in Chile - a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.
Chile is the world's leading copper producing nation, and most of its mining industry is in the northern regions. Top mining companies said there was no serious damage to their operations so far.
Update as of 6:56pm
U.S. officials are keeping a close watch on a tsunami that has formed in the Pacific Ocean and its possible effect on Hawaii after a magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck near Chile.
The powerful quake struck off Chile's coast, creating a tsunami that hit the northern part of the country. It's led to evacuations along the coastal areas.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said it's evaluating the threat and there is a possibility that Hawaii could be elevated to watch or warning status.
If tsunami waves reach the islands, they would hit around 3:30 a.m.local time. There is no threat to the West Coast.
Also, a government official in Chile says there are no reports of deaths or serious damage after tonight's magnitude 8.2 earthquake off the northern coast.
People there have been asked to evacuate the entire coast as the quake generated a tsunami. The earthquake struck about 60 miles northwest of the mining town of Iquique.
Emergency officials in Chile say there are reports of landslides partially blocking some highways and roads. Four years ago, a magnitude 8.8 quake triggered a tsunami that hit several coastal towns in central and southern Chile. That disaster killed over 500 people.
Officials in Chile are calling for the evacuation of the northern coastline after a powerful earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says a tsunami was generated by the magnitude 8.2 quake.
Early reports say wave activity measured over six feet.
The tsunami could be destructive along the coasts near the quake's epicenter and could also threaten more distant coasts.
A Tsunami warning is now in effect for: Chile, Peru and Ecuador.
A Tsunami Watch is now in effect for: Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua
Still no tsunami warning for Hawaii.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the quake itself. The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 8.2 and struck 61 miles (99 kilometers) northwest of Iquique, Chile, at 8:46 p.m.
It hit in an area that has been rocked by numerous quakes over the past two weeks. The latest tremor shook buildings in parts of the nearby nations of Bolivia and Peru.
Video below of evacuation in Antofagasta, Chile:
Mapa de países con alerta de tsunami debido al terremoto en Chile pic.twitter.com/HcYANP3xIH— BuzzFeed Español (@BuzzFeedEspanol) April 2, 2014