Residents sifted through rubble on Thursday and saved what they could from homes destroyed by a magnitude 8.3 earthquake in central Chile that killed 11 people, forced 1 million from their homes and sent giant waves crashing into coastal areas.
Aftershocks shook the South American country following Wednesday’s quake, the strongest in the world this year and the biggest to hit Chile since 2010. But some residents expressed relief that the destruction had not been greater.
The northern port city of Coquimbo, where waves of up to 4.5 meters (15 feet) slammed into the shore, was declared an emergency area by the government. The move gives the government a wide range of special powers. It was aimed at speeding aid to the city and allowed soldiers to patrol the streets to ensure security and prevent looting.
Large fishing boats had washed up onto the streets Coquimbo. Others vessels splintered, littering the bay with debris.
“We lost it all. It was horrible,” said 79-year-old Hilda Zambra, whose home in Tongoy, a beach town some 40 km (25 miles) south of Coquimbo, was destroyed by surging waters.
“I don’t know how I got out of there,” she said as a shipment of Red Cross aid arrived in the normally quiet tourist destination and soldiers helped clear streets of debris. “It was dark. I jumped into some stranger’s pickup truck. We left with what we had on our backs.”