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An earthquake of magnitude 8.2 which jolted northern Chile, triggering a tsunami alert and the evacuation of thousands of people from coastal areas has caught the attention of disaster officials in St Lucia. Reports indicate that at least five people have been killed and more than 300 women escaped from a coastal prison.

The quake was centred under the Pacific Ocean 61 miles north-west of the city of Iquique (ee-kee-kyeh) and struck at 8.46pm as thousands of residents were arriving home from work.

This comes following a tsunami simulation exercise held here to sensitize St. Lucians on the appropriate response to such an eventuality. Director at the National Emergency management Organization Dawn French says several lessons can be drawn from this occurrence.

As sirens blared in the Chilean town and emergency warnings urged residents to evacuate by foot to higher ground, in coastal cities, traffic jams ensued, as panicked residents sought to escape the coast.

Ms French is almost certain that a similar situation would occur here if St Lucians were to experience such an eventuality.

The first tsunami surge measured 2.5 metres (8.2ft) and flooded low-lying areas of Iquique (ee-kee-kyeh) including a medical clinic and bus terminal.
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