Chilean authorities express regret for mistakenly setting off tsunami warning after earthquake

Chilean authorities expressed regret for spreading panic with a mistaken tsunami warning calling for people to get out of coastal areas following an earthquake in Antarctica.

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck 216 kilometres northeast of the O’Higgins Chilean scientific base at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on Saturday at 8:36pm.

The ministry then mistakenly sent out message to cellphones across the entire country, urging people to abandon coastal areas.

“We want to provide peace of mind to the population, tell them that it is not necessary to evacuate the entire national territory, only the Antarctic base,” Miguel Ortiz of the ministry’s National Emergency Office (ONEMI) told a news conference.

He said the agency regretted the inconvenience caused by its messages, which he blamed on a technical error. The tsunami warning for Antarctica was later lifted.

As Chileans were reacting to the warning, a second tremor, of magnitude 5.6, struck the Chile-Argentina border region according to the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences. The tremor measures a depth of 133 km and took place 30 km east of Santiago.