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Latin America's Pacific Coast is on alert for a "destructive" tsunami
A tsunami has been triggered after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Chile.
The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said "readings indicate a tsunami was generated", with waves measuring between 5.6 and 6.3 feet.
The Chilean navy says some areas in the north of the country were hit by waves 45 minutes after the quake struck, and all of Latin America's Pacific Coast is on alert.
Chile has requested the "preventative evacuation" of its coastline, the country's ONEMI emergency office said, but this was being hampered by landslides which have blocked roads.
Chilean journalist Jorge Garreton told Sky News: "The evacuation is proceeding normally. Northern Chile has been expecting an earthquake. There were a number of exercises in the recent past. People know where they have to go to the safety zones.
"The northern cities are low-lying so they have to go up to the mountains. They have been advised not to take vehicles but to walk."
Authorities in Peru have also started evacuating communities in the southern coastal region of Ica, RPP radio is reporting.
The huge tremor occurred at 6.46pm local time (10.46pm BST) on Tuesday. There are no reported injuries so far.
The warning says that as well as Chile and Peru, the coasts of Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua are at risk.
"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours," the PTWC said.
The quake hit 62 miles (99km) northwest of the mining town of Iquique.
It happened just 12.5 miles (20.1 km) below the seabed - making it feel even more powerful.
The tremor shook buildings in parts of the nearby nations of Bolivia and Peru.
The area has been rocked by several quakes in the last two weeks. A magnitude-6.7 quake on March 16 prompted more than 100,000 people to briefly evacuate low-lying areas.
US officials say there is no imminent threat of a tsunami along the coasts of Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon or Washington.
A 8.8-magnitude quake caused a tsunami that killed more than 500 people in Chile in February 2010.
EVENT PAGE: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usc000nzvd#summary