Tsunami alert rattles quake-hit Chileans

Tsunami alert rattles quake-hit Chileans

Local residents walk in a street after a rumour of another tsunami spreads in Constitucion, some 300 km south of Santiago, March 3, 2010. AFP

Four days after giant waves swept hundreds to their death, two powerful aftershocks, with magnitudes of 5.9 and 6.0, triggered a brief new tsunami warning on Wednesday along the stretch of Chile's central coast worst hit on Saturday.

Thousands of traumatised earthquake survivors, some still trying to identify loved ones claimed by killer waves, rushed to higher ground as troops ushered them up hillsides. The alert was lifted less than 30 minutes later.

Ignacio Gutierrez, from a Chilean television station, was driving into the devastated seaside resort of Constitucion when people fleeing stopped his car and shouted: "Run, run there is a tsunami."

Nelson Muna was bringing food and water for victims when he heard the sirens wailing and was confronted by a scene of utter panic: "We saw soldiers running, everyone running out of town. Even the soldiers were scared." Another 6.1 magnitude aftershock struck late Wednesday in central Chile, one of nearly 200 to rattle the South American nation since Saturday's massive 8.8 temblor, among the strongest ever measured.

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