A magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck off the coast of central Peru on Wednesday evening, killing 17 people and leaving 70 hurt, Peruvian media reported.
Pedestrians try to make calls on their cell phones in Lima, Peru, after a strong earthquake Wednesday.
The quake also prompted a tsunami warning for Peru, as well as Chile, Ecuador and Colombia.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also issued a tsunami watch for Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras.
Hawaii was under a tsunami advisory, which means there is no current threat to the area, but the threat status is being monitored.
Peru, and most of the South American Pacific Coast, are on border of two tectonic plates: The South American plate, which includes most of the continent, and the Nazca plate, which extends across the Pacific along most of the coast. See a map of where the quake struck »
A Chilean buoy about 440 miles from the quake site recorded a wave surge of about a foot afterward. That foot could grow exponentially in shallower water, however, as it approaches shore, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
The quake was felt for two minutes, according to Peruvian media. Broken windows were reported in Lima, and mobile phone service was interrupted.
"This has been the most terrifying experience we've had," Gladys Tarnawiecki told CNN from her home in Lima, the capital. "It was extremely long ... never in my life had I experienced this long an earthquake."
Local television showed footage of traffic lights in Lima swaying with the quake. After everything stopped shaking, medics were seen tending to a woman. The video also showed chunks of plaster that had fallen from buildings. Some Lima residents were sobbing after the temblor, while others appeared to be praying.
The quake shook inland towns, as well as cities near the coast and the mountains.
There were power outages in Lima, Reuters reported, and people ran into the streets in panic as the tremor shook office buildings. Many stayed outside, afraid to go back indoors after radio reports warned them to prepare for possible aftershocks.
The quake struck at 6:41 p.m. (7:41 p.m. ET) and was centered 25 miles (61 kilometers) west-northwest of Chincha Alta, Peru, and 90 miles (161 kilometers) south-southeast of Lima, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicenter was 25 miles (47 kilometers) below the Earth's surface.
More tremors followed. A magnitude 5.8 quake occurred at 7:02 p.m. (8:02 p.m. ET). It was further inland, centered 70 miles (113 kilometers) northeast of Chincha Alta and 111 miles (179 kilometers) east-southeast of Lima.
And at 7:19 p.m., another smaller quake of 5.9 magnitude occurred, centered 30 miles (48 kilometers) south-southwest of Ica, Peru, and 180 miles (290 kilometers) south-southeast of Lima.
source: Deadly earthquake strikes Peru; tsunami warning issued - CNN.com
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