TODAY   |  April 02, 2014

Deadly Earthquake Rocks Chile

A massive, magnitude-8.2 earthquake rocked Chile overnight and triggered a tsunami warning. At least five people are dead. NBC’s Mark Potter reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> breaking news out of south america this morning to tell you about.

>> it's that powerful earthquake in chile. the true scope of the damage probably won't be known for a while as people are beginning to assess the damage as daylight begins to break. mark potter in los angeles this morning. what can you tell us?

>> well, matt, good morning. nothing terrifies chileans more than a tsunami threat. this last one killed at least six people, some from falling debris, some from heart attacks that caused many to flee their homes in a scene all too familiar in chile.

>> reporter: fires raged overnight triggered by the intense shaking of a powerful 8.2 earthquake striking in the pacific ocean . the epicenter was 76 miles off the coast of a mining town near the border with peru. the quake was followed by tsunami warnings up and down the pacific coast , even as far away as hawaii. hundreds of thousands were evacuated along the chilean coast including homes for the elderly leading to a series of traffic jams from fleeing residents.

>> this earthquake occurred in an area of plate convergence where one plate ducks under another. it's similar to japan ain the last few years.

>> er the area encircling most of the pacific ocean that is home to the overwhelming majority of the world seismic and volcanic activity.

>> much of the pacific ocean is growing. it's been producing new crusts and moving it out and on the edges of the ocean, that crust has to go down under the continents. and these large faults where this happens produce the biggest earthquakes of the world. the biggest of all are in chile.

>> just four years ago, chile suffered an 8.8 quake that killed over 500 residents, also the victim of the largest earthquake in recorded history, a 9.5 quake in 1960 that killed several thousand.

>> so the whole country is sitting on magnitude 8 to 9 earthquakes.

>> landslides blocking roads also reported. about 300 female prisoners escaped from a jail during the quake. and the big question now, is this it? or will another earthquake follow soon as has happened there in the past? matt?

>> mark potter , thank you very