The earthquake that has struck Chile is a very powerful one, with a force of 8.8. (The Haiti quake measured 7.0) Its epicentre was 50 miles north of the city of Concepcion, population about 670,000, though buildings were damaged in the capital Santiago about 200 miles away.
At least 17 people are thought to have been killed, but as the quake struck in the early morning, and telephone and power lines are down in many areas, the death toll could be much higher, and there are fears that the quake could also generate a tsunami.
Fifty years ago Chile was hit by the strongest earthquake of modern times, registering 9.5. On May 22, 1960, the city of Valdivia, about 170 miles south of Concepcion was severely damaged.
The quake caused a tsunami that battered the Chilean coast with waves up to 80 feet high, and completely destroyed some coastal villages, while Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines were also hit. Estimates for the number of people killed range as high as 6,000.