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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Magnitude 8.8 Earthquake Strikes Chile; Tsunami Warnings in Effect for Entire Pacific Basin

Aired February 27, 2010 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good morning, everybody. Ice Saturday, February 27th. I'm Rob Marciano in today for T.J. Holmes.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Betty Nguyen. It's 11:00 a.m. in the east, 8:00 a.m. on the west coast, and 6:00 a.m. in Hawaii.

All right, we're going to tell you some more now. We're waiting for those pictures to come up live pictures out of Hawaii. Well, we're still going to wait on them, but we'll tell you the news meanwhile.

Tsunami warning sirens, they are blaring. We'll show that to you shortly. The warning, though, triggered by a massive earthquake that struck Chile about 9.5 hours ago. When we say massive, we mean an 8.8 Quake. It was centered about 200 miles southwest of the capital of Santiago, which is near the city of Concepcion.

Chile's president-elect says at least 122 people are dead and multiple aftershocks are being reported. We're also hearing that a nearly eight-foot wave hit a town in Chile.

MARCIANO: As you can see from the damage, it was a heavy quake for sure. Survivors in shock. And the death toll over 100 now and rising. People felt the tremors hundreds of miles away. And they knew immediately how bad it was. Here's what the head of CNN Chile told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation started a little after 3:30 this morning, about 3:40 or so. There was a violent shaking in Santiago, no question about it. I literally got knocked out of bed and onto the floor. And it was pretty clear because of the length of the earthquake that it was going to be a major earthquake. The city almost immediately ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: You are listening to live sirens being blared across Hawaii from our affiliate KHON. These are sirens to alert coastal residents of the islands to evacuate in anticipation of the tsunami that should be arriving there within the next four or five hours.

MARCIANO: Let's take you now to CNN's Chad Myers in the Severe Weather Center. Chad, just give us an indication of what they could possibly face when it comes to a tsunami. How large of a tsunami could this be?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the initial report could be between 10 and 15 feet. And that's not necessarily written in stone. As these buoys that measure the ocean waves measure how much the ocean is going up or down, those numbers could change, and actually they could change quite drastically as it moves.

The earthquake -- well, here's the United States. Here's Mexico, all the way down to Chile. That's where that star is. That's where the earthquake occurred many hours ago. And if you take these lines, there's three hours, six hour, nine hours from the earthquake, 12 hours from the earthquake, and 15 hours from the earthquake. That's how long it's going to take for that tsunami to hit Hawaii.

So they still have quite a bit of time, even though the alarm is going off now -- I can still hear it in my ear here -- you can probably hear it in your ear, as well. But that is still going to be a few more hours. It's about here right now, still about another six hours before the tsunami does hit Hawaii.

There will be some significant wave action there in Hawaii. We don't know exactly how much. And let me show you why, because it completely depends on what it's like when you take and you look at the production of the land and the wave action, and whether the basin looks like a catcher's mitt or whether it looks like it's convex or concave.

This is where the 7.7-foot wave hit. There is the earthquake right there. So down just about 100 miles south of the epicenter, where the epicenter was, where the land shook the most under the water -- follow me down here. All of a sudden, there's a catcher's mitt- like basin right here. It caught all of the water, and then that water piled into the city and that city is right here. So we know almost eight feet of water piled into that city. This is in Chile. This is very close to the epicenter.

Is it going to be anything like that in Hawaii? There's no way to tell right now. But people need to be off the beaches, especially the east and south beaches. But these tsunamis go all the way around the islands. And sometimes on the backside of the island, the wave can be equally as deep as the wave that hit on the south or the southeast side of the island, just because of the way the topography in these basins occurs.

So people in Hawaii haven't heard these sirens in a long time. I've been to Hawaii. I've seen the sirens. I've gone wow, I don't want to be here when they go off. Today, they're going off.

Karen is with us now. Yes. Karen, what do you have today?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Chad, speaking of tsunamis and the tsunami sirens that were going off, already there have been about 30 aftershocks, and we have seen just about five or six that are six point plus, and that would be typical. MYERS: Yes.

MAGINNIS: We are expecting aftershocks for about the next month or so. There might be maybe a dozen at 6.0 magnitude plus, maybe 100 at 5.0 plus, and then we'll see maybe 1,000 or so at 4.0 plus.

And speaking of the tsunami situation, as I just mentioned, we have already seen tsunami activity at Robinson Crusoe Island. That's about 400 miles offshore. Now I know that sounds very mythical, very idyllic, but in fact they did see a very large wave there.

The president of Chile has sent two ships there to provide provisions there. There was some damage reported. We don't have any reports of any injuries or any fatalities there. Also on Easter Island, another idyllic place -- we think of that as very exotic. It is very remote. Both of those places very remote. They are situated far away from Chile.

But this tsunami warning or tsunami watches and advisories encompass the entire Pacific Basin, 53 countries or territories. And this goes all the way towards Russia, also Japan, includes coastal sections of California, up to the California/Oregon border.

Now, as I mentioned, they did have a tsunami report on Robinson Crusoe island that was large enough that did produce some damage. They did send two ships there. I also asked Dr. Frankel -- I want to mention this one thing -- I saw a report where they felt it in Argentina, in Buenos Aires. And he said the crust across South America is very, very old.

So that large of an earthquake being felt through that old, old crust, that could be the violent shaking. But he gave me an example that the earthquake in South Carolina, in Charleston, back in the 1800s, I believe, he said it rang bells up the east coast, church bells. It was that strong.

So, to be felt in Argentina, maybe not as violently -- I'm sure it wasn't -- but that tells you just what a significant event this was. Chad, back to you.

MYERS: Karen, I just got something new here from the Alaska tsunami warning center here. Although this isn't new, this is the first time we're actually going to get this here for California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. We do think that a small tsunami -- you know, it's all relative. Waves are very strong. The weight of water is very strong. But at La Hoya, 2.3 feet, at Malibu, 2.6 feet, Half Moon Bay, 2.6, and then on up into Oregon could be a foot or two. Santa Monica could see 3.3 feet.

This is not going to be one wave. This is going to be inundation. This is going to start to come up. It may come up six inches, and you expect that water to go back out, but it doesn't. It goes up another six inches. You think it's going out, but it doesn't, and another wave comes in and pushes it up another six inches.

You don't want to be on any south-facing shore today at all, period. And you certainly don't want to be anywhere along the area on the beach itself, because a three-foot wave, or even a three-foot inundation of water could be enough to pick you up and take you out with rip currents today. This was a dangerous -- it was an 8.8 earthquake.

We're talking about 8.8, guys. We're talking about a 7.0 In Haiti. An 8.8 is -- from 7.0 To 8.0, 32 Times stronger; 8.0 to 9.0, another 32 times. OK, so we didn't get all the way to 9.0. If you do that multiplication, from 7.0 to 9.0 is 1,000 times stronger earthquake. This thing is somewhere in the neighborhood of 600, 700, 800 times stronger than the Haitian earthquake.

Luckily, it was under water. That's the good news. Bad news is it was under water, so now we have a Pacific-wide tsunami.

MARCIANO: Follow up on this; is that advisory now a warning for the West Coast of the US?

MYERS: It is still considered a tsunami advisory due to the size of the waves.

MARCIANO: But two to three feet water rise is what we're expecting.

MYERS: Correct. That's still in the advisory category. A south-facing beach, Malibu for sure, could certainly get more than that as you funnel that water up into a bay like that. And anywhere down near Cabo San Lucas could see that, as well, down in Mexico for sure.

NGUYEN: Chad Myers on top of all of that for us. We heard the warning sirens go out in Hawaii. Evacuations are under way. There's much more to come, because we've got two issues here: tsunami and also the earthquake, and the aftershocks from that 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck overnight.

MARCIANO: We've been visiting and talking with people who have been in the earthquake. They've joined us by phone, by Skype in some case, certainly by Twitter. We want to get to Scott Williams. He's a former resident of Concepcion, very near the epicenter of this quake.

Scott, I'm not sure if you're joining us by phone or what, but tell us where you are right now, and what have you heard about your former residence?

SCOTT WILLIAMS, FORMER RESIDENT OF CONCEPCION, CHILE: Thank you. I'm here -- I live here in Atlanta. I have -- I'm watching your coverage right now, have been far good part of the morning, have tried to contact friends in Concepcion, and the phone service -- they're very dependent on cell phones, like we are anyway, but no phone service as of this time.

We have very good friends that we had during the time we lived in Concepcion. We came to the United States about the same time we came back, in 2001. And they live in Dayton. We've been in contact with them, and they're the same. They're not able to get any information about their friends and relatives in Concepcion. They're quite frantic, actually, to find out the conditions of the people.

MARCIANO: I can just imagine, Scott. Give us an idea of the construction of the buildings in Concepcion. Clearly, better constructed than places like Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. But, you know, this is an 8.8 quake, and we're seeing the damage via pictures, very dramatic. What kind of building strength and code do they have in Concepcion?

WILLIAMS: Well, I'm not at all qualified to talk about building codes, so I want that understood. But I would tell you that it was always a personal observation that the Chileans have a very strong bias toward concrete construction. And if you talk to them about it, it's precisely because they do live in an Earthquake zone. They'll say we live in an earthquake zone. We want our buildings to last. We want the buildings to stand up to earthquakes better than wood construction.

Obviously, the concern I always had was, in the immediate part of the earthquake, flying concrete is, you know, a lot more dangerous than flying wood.

MARCIANO: Sure.

WILLIAMS: On the other hand, I do have -- watching your coverage and seeing the fires that are burning all over Concepcion and Talcahuano and Santiago, it's clear that the benefit that they get out of having so much concrete construction is that they don't have the wood fuelling the fire once the fires start.

MARCIANO: Tell us about emergency services. When you lived there, was there a pretty good presence of police, fire department, rescue teams? How well equipped is a place like Concepcion to deal with this?

WILLIAMS: Concepcion was very equipped with that when we lived there. We had -- during the dry part of the year, which this is their very dry part of their summer now, right now -- forest fires and grass fires were quite common during that time we lived there. And there were helicopters and, you know, boat planes that could drop -- come in and drop fire retardant. So they're very well equipped in that respect.

Police, (SPANISH) in Chile are the police, a very good police organization. Good hospitals from my stand point. And also the fire departments tended to be mostly volunteer. And, in fact, I had friends who had been and some still were volunteer firemen, something they take very seriously. They take it as a real source of pride.

Anyway, they're able to respond -- at least at that time, eight, nine years ago, they were able to respond very well. We actually went back down for another trip just a little over a year ago, and were surprised to see that the infrastructure in Concepcion was even much better visually.

It was much more improved city. And it was a good city when we lived there. So I'm heartened that they're going to be able to -- I'm looking at a picture right now on your coverage. That's what's called the Old Bridge across BioBio in Concepcion, obviously now has tumbled. And a year and a half ago, that was still standing.

MARCIANO: Did you ever think living there that you'd see pictures of your old residence like this?

WILLIAMS: No. No, I really didn't. We did experience a couple of earthquakes, minor earthquakes while we were there, but nothing that wreaked like this. We're very concerned for friends that we still have in Concepcion and anxious to hear from them.

MARCIANO: I'm sure you are and we'll try to get word to you. Scott Williams, living here in Atlanta, but spent some time down there in Concepcion, near the epicenter of the earthquake. Thank you, Scott.

CNN.com, no doubt, is going to have a huge amount of resources devoted to this. So if you have friends and family that you're worried about down there, certainly fish around on CNN.com, the best website out there as far as these kinds of things are concerned, and we'll get you that information as best we can.

NGUYEN: Yeah. It's not just Chile that a lot of people are worried about. It's the surrounding countries, as well. Getting some new information at CNN. We're learning that there have been 33 aftershocks since the initial quake, that 8.8 magnitude quake.

The most recent aftershock, oh, about 30 minutes ago, at 10:45 eastern, that happened in Argentina. That was an aftershock that measured 6.3 in magnitude. So that alone is still a pretty powerful quake. But it is just an aftershock in light of the initial quake, which was 8.8 in magnitude.

So a lot of ground shaking still to come. We also have those tsunami warnings that are up, as well. So a lot of people really just on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what is going to happen next. And we are there, as well. And we'll bring you live pictures from Chile and surrounding areas right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Thanks for joining us. Want to get you back to our breaking news. At least 122 people are dead after a massive earthquake struck Central Chile early this morning, triggering tsunami warnings across the Pacific Basin. Now, our international desk is on the story around the clock.

Let's get to the latest from Rafael Romo. He joins us live. Rafael, what have you learned specifically about those areas close toast the epi center?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, Betty, within the last half hour or so, the president-elect of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, spoke to the national media and he was talking about precisely about what you're asking, those areas. That's the reason we have an updated death toll at 122. Just about an hour ago, we were talking about 78 people. The fatal victim as a result of the earthquake now is 122.

But he made the statement saying that this is a very preliminary figure that may change in the next few hours. And that has been the case since we started covering this earlier this morning. Now, Mr. Pinera was talking about the devastation of this earthquake. He was talking about how many highways, specifically Highway Number Five, which is the most important highway in Chile, goes north and south, has been badly damaged. Also one of the most important bridges that connects both regions of the country has been destroyed, as well.

And right now, communications, telephone lines, Internet lines are still down. Power has not been back yet in many places, the capital, Santiago, and also in the areas of Concepcion.

But we're also talking about coastal areas like Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, those areas that are flat, where many people were spending the weekend, because in the same way that we celebrate Labor Day here in the United states as the unofficial end of Summer, they were celebrating this weekend as well, the unofficial end of their summer, with a huge music festival. So not only people from Chile, but from international locations who were there.

So a very complicated situation and we still have to find out the extent of the damage and also the number of victims as a result of this earthquake -- Betty?

NGUYEN: All right. Let me ask you this -- and I don't even know if we have the answer, because a lot of this information is still coming in. But we are seeing tsunami warnings for places as far and away as Hawaii, Japan, Australia. What about the coast there along Chile? Are those warnings still up and in effect?

ROMO: Not anymore, according to local media. I was just monitoring exactly that situation. And they said that, at one point, water flooded an area about 150 feet from sea level in the areas that I just mentioned, Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, those flat areas, coastal areas near the epicenter. But so far that's all we've heard. And it seems like the damage as a result of the original tsunami may not have been as bad as some people expected it.

But, yeah, it's still a big concern. Some of the other areas further away from Chile -- if you go even as far north as Acapulco, Mexico, very popular beach resort where the tidal wave, if you will, was supposed to arrive just about now -- so it remains an open question as to what's going to happen in the coastal areas, if you follow or know that coastal line through Central America, and then go to Mexico.

NGUYEN: Yeah. That's good information, though, because Chile makes up half of the West Coast of South America. So it's a very long coastline. It stretches some 2,700 miles. So according to what you're learning, that those tsunami warnings are no longer in effect along that coastline. Good information to know. As we've been saying, it's just coming in by the minute. Rafael, thank you for that. There is much more to come right here on CNN, as we continue to follow the aftershocks, the tsunami warnings, and all that's to come in light of this 8.8 magnitude quake.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: All right. Back to our breaking news, 8.8 magnitude quake hitting Chile earlier this morning. Now tsunami warnings are a concern across the Pacific Basin. We have them up and down, with the exception of Chile now, because the wave has moved on, and it's moving on to places like Hawaii, where that's an area of concern, because they've been sounding sirens for the past 20 minutes to alert coastal residents to evacuate to a higher ground, basically, for the next six or ten hours, while they await for this tsunami to arrive in that area.

We have an affiliate on the ground there, Gina Manieri from KHON. Gina, are you there? Can you describe the scene for us? Is it choreographed chaos, everybody acting OK?

GINA MANIERI, KHON REPORTER, HONOLULU: So far, so good. I'm here at State Civil Defense Headquarters, which is up in Diamond Head, if anyone's been out here to Honolulu. You heard the sirens on the air a moment ago, certainly an unexpected wake-up call, although we're as rehearsed as we can be out here in Hawaii. We have monthly tsunami alerts much like that as practiced, and people will know what to do when they hear them. It means to be ready to evacuate.

No official evacuations yet, although most people are taking it upon themselves to get themselves out of a tsunami inundation zone, if they are mapped inside of one. We'll also have more warnings at the three-hour, two-hour, one hour, and half-hour intervals as the wave nears the island.

MARCIANO: Interesting, because states on the mainland, if a siren goes off in say a tornado zone, that means a tornado is heading your way and take cover now. What you're telling me is this siren is basically an alarm clock, at least for now, to say, hey, listen, get in touch with your local authorities, certainly turn on CNN, and stand by to see if you're going to have to evacuate.

So there are no mandatory evacuations as of yet. That sounds kind of weird to me, considering that so many people live along the coastline and in some places on the coast, we could see a wave -- a powerful wave at several feet high.

MANIERI: That's right. The reason they're firing them off this far in advance is it gives us about five hours to prepare for what might happen next. The state civil defense is already taking precautions, like shutting down Hilo Airport. That's on the big island. Also standing up National Guard on all islands.

CH-47 and Black Hawk helicopters on standby, as well, to do coastal and civil air patrol. As those warning intervals get closer and civil defense here where I'm at makes decisions about where and when to evacuate, they will then issue more specific instructions. But this lets everybody know heads up, something's coming. We've got about five hours. And as the intervals get closer, they come out with more specific instruction. Most families, though, take it upon themselves to protect life and property already.

MARCIANO: So what's the vibe? You sound pretty calm. Are residents pretty calm, at least right now?

MANIERI: As you said, the calm chaos, the calm fear of what might come next. I wouldn't call it a panic by any means. We do have a large tourist population of course with us in Waikiki. That will be of primary concern as well. Families here in Hawaii try to practice disaster preparedness as much as possible. We live in a hurricane area, a constant watch for tsunamis as well.

MARCIANO: What are authorities telling tourists right now? Or is that up to the individual hotel or resort that they may be residing in?

MANIERI: Sure. The siren would have been heard all the way through Waikiki loud and clear. And that's alerting folks to go ahead and get those TVs on in their hotel rooms. If they do have a mandatory evacuation of the beaches, they will go up and down the beaches, fire, life guards, fire rescue and such, telling people to be sure to get off.

MARCIANO: And you're telling me that will happen about two hours prior to?

MANIERI: If they determine from the buoy readings, the wave readings -- if they determine that's what needs to happen, yes.

MARCIANO: All right. Sounds like things, at least right now, are under control there on Hawaii. Gina Manieri joining us from KHON. Thank you very much, Gina. We may be checking back with you as that hour approaches. Again, 11:00 am thereabouts, give or take 20 minutes, is when we expect the first wave to arrive in Hawaii. They've already sounded the sirens to kind of tell people to wake up, tune in, and be ready to leave if they have to.

Let's get to Chad Myers.

NGUYEN: We want to talk to him about these tsunami warnings, these advisories, in fact, that stretch all the way to Alaska. Chad, help us understand if this quake started near Chile, and as powerful as it is, 8.8 magnitude, how is it that a tsunami could possibly make it all the way to places as far off as Australia, Japan, Russia, and Hawaii?

MYERS: Well, let's ask our doctor, my phone a friend, Dr. Kurt Frankel from Georgia Tech. We'll pass on the earthquake for now.

We'll come back to it if there's time, because right now the threat is tsunami.

DR. KURT FRANKEL, GEORGIA TECH: Tsunami. That's right. MYERS: The earthquake threat is over although ...

FRANKEL: Aftershocks.

MYERS: Although, with an 8.8, couldn't that move other plates around enough to maybe cause another one?

FRANKEL: There's always a possibility of what we called triggered cognicity, but that's hard to tell.

MYERS: But there are plenty of aftershocks. Angela, go ahead and play this because we'll figure out what happens.

FRANKEL: Here's the sea floor and the subductive plate, and the rupture of that plate moving up.

MYERS: So the rupture ...

FRANKEL: Pushes the sea floor up.

MYERS: Pushes the sea floor up.

FRANKEL: And then that pushes the water -- of course there's water and it's got to go somewhere if the sea floor goes somewhere. So it pushes that water out to the side and that water starts traveling across the ocean. These are really long wave lengths and really short amplitude waves.

So if you're in a boat out in the ocean, you're not going to feel this any differently than a regular ocean wave but as it runs up on the shore, of course it just keeps going and going and going. The long wavelength continues to run inland. That's a function of how steep the shoreline is. The more -- the shallower the shoreline or the less steep the shoreline is the further run-up there's going to be.

MYERS: So let's talk about Hawaii. It's basically a 30,000-foot mountain.

FRANKEL: That's right.

MYERS: So it's fairly steep.

FRANKEL: Relatively though.

MYERS: Relative compared to other basins that may actually have a larger tsunami that's not so steep. We're worried about Hawaii because that's basically the next place. We're not worried about Chile anymore. Let's get to this. This is a time management of where the tsunami could be. So this was, what, six hours ago, more than that?

FRANKEL: Sure.

MYERS: So the reason why we're not worried about Chile anymore because the waves wouldn't be here now.

FRANKEL: Right. It already passed. MYERS: It's here and moving up toward Hawaii.

FRANKEL: That's right.

MYERS: It can go all the way to Japan?

FRANKEL: It can travel across the ocean basin. We don't know exactly what it would be like in Japan, but certainly they have a warning in place, the possibility exists that the tsunami could reach places like Japan.

MYERS: Does it lose some intensity or just keeps going?

FRANKEL: It will lose some intensity probably as it goes along, but again that's a lot of -- the function of what the shape of the ocean floor is like, how deep that ocean basin is and so forth.

MYERS: So this is USGS and so is this, I assume, right?

FRANKEL: Yep.

MYERS: This is some kind of a computer model.

FRANKEL: A computer model based on the earthquake and what we think the displacement on the sea floor.

MYERS: Here's the U.S.

FRANKEL: Yep.

MYERS: There's Florida.

FRANKEL: So the earthquake happened right about there.

MYERS: And so the model thinks that most of the water went that way, some of the water goes this way.

FRANKEL: And you can see that the intensity does sort of -- this is a scale over here in centimeters so we're talking about a meter- high wave in the open ocean and of course that decreases as we move away from the earthquake source.

MYERS: Waves in Alaska?

FRANKEL: The possibility exists there, just probably because of the shape of the coastline and little perturbations along little coastal features like bays and so forth tend to accentuate waves. So just small variations in the shape of the coastline.

MYERS: I've been to Hawaii and people like Honolulu, Waikiki, they're going to get out of the way of this.

FRANKEL: They should get out of the way of this.

MYERS: You should not go to the shore to be a spectator. FRANKEL: No. We saw that in the Sumatra earthquake in 2004. The sea receded as the water level went up initially and everybody ran to the shore and of course the wave came and that was not good.

MYERS: Let's talk about the wave. It's not a "Hawaii 5-0" surfable ...

FRANKEL: No.

MYERS: Doesn't look like that.

FRANKEL: It's just going to be -- the water is just going to keep rushing in like a flood, essentially.

MYERS: And then it keeps going in ...

FRANKEL: And then of course it's going to recede and take whatever is not bolted down back with it.

MYERS: And that's what we saw in the Banda Ache (ph).

FRANKEL: Right.

MYERS: Where people were literally floating on whatever was still left, the flotsam and jetsam that was there. They were floating on this back out into the ocean.

FRANKEL: That's right.

MYERS: If people have boats in harbors that will be facing the southeast or anywhere (INAUDIBLE), should they be going out to sea?

FRANKEL: Probably if you have a boat, the best place that boat is as far out to sea as you can get. The further you are away from the coast, the less chance you're going to have of anything happen.

MYERS: Because just the way that these bays happen sometimes. And guys, wrap me and tell me I'm done when I'm out of time, but take this and we'll just make a bay. Here's Honolulu but we'll just make something. If a bay looks like this and the water is coming in like this ...

FRANKEL: That's right.

MYERS: This is the area really that gets filled in and the water goes up higher. Why?

FRANKEL: Well, it focuses the waves into that area. The other issue you have with some bay features is that sometimes those waves get trapped in there, so it's like your bathtub (INAUDIBLE) so it just sort of sloshes back and forth almost within that bay as the waves get trapped.

MYERS: Some other sloshing that we were mentioning was the possibility that some people were feeling the earthquake for a longer time because of what you said, the sediment people are living on? FRANKEL: If they're living down near the coast where you have unconsolidated sand and gravel and not intact bedrock there, that's going to act like a bowl of Jello when the earthquake wave shake and it traps those waves and it's going to shake for a longer period of time and usually with more intensity. At the coast, you can see there's rivers coming down and just depositing the sediment out here. Whereas up in the mountains ...

MYERS: Back up here, yeah, the ...

FRANKEL: So the Andes would start somewhere back here, the foothills, so solid bedrock is going to start cropping out there. People have built on that bedrock. The waves are going to pass through there with much less intensity and much faster than getting trapped in those unconsolidated sediments.

MYERS: And is this what we saw in the marina district in the world series earthquake?

FRANKEL: That's right.

MYERS: The marina was built on some kind of landfill and those houses fell down and others houses didn't.

FRANKEL: That's right. So that unconsolidated fill, the sediment, the material that's been dumped into San Francisco Bay there is going to shake much, much more than solid bedrock will shake.

MYERS: Doctor, thank you very much.

FRANKEL: Thanks.

MYERS: A have a great phone friend today.

NGUYEN: I was about to say. I think we all need a phone friend like that, an expert no doubt. Thanks for explaining that. We do appreciate it.

MARCIANO: That certainly helps us digesting when people say I felt it for 45 seconds. Other people say they felt it for two or three minutes.

NGUYEN: And we're scratching our heads going, how is that possible or did you just get caught up in the moment, you thought it was three minutes when it was only 30 seconds?

MARCIANO: What was that again?

FRANKEL: Unconsolidated sediment, so just think of it as loose sand and gravel.

MARCIANO: All right and you get Jello moving. That wouldn't be fun to be on top of that.

FRANKEL: No.

MARCIANO: Kurt, Chad, thank you very much.

NGUYEN: And there is much more to come. Not only are we going to continue to explain exactly what happened, how it happened but we're going to bring you the latest pictures out of Chile. Stay with us for much more right here on CNN.

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MARCIANO: If you are just waking up with us, let's get you caught up on what's going on. An 8.8 magnitude quake struck Chile early this morning, 122 fatalities at this point, but of course in these type of situations that number is fluid and likely to rise. First responders are on the scene, but you see some of the damage there.

It is dramatic and very expansive along the coastline there, especially, speaking of the coast, we have tsunami warnings that are up. A small tsunami struck parts of the Chilean coastline and now is propagating out to the west. A warning up for Hawaii. They anticipate to see a wave there strike sometime between 10:00 a.m. and noon local time, so residents there are preparing and sirens have been heard there. We've been covering it with our worldwide resources including the use of the Internet, which always proves to be a valuable tool.

NGUYEN: No doubt, especially after a disaster like this. It's become invaluable. CNN's Josh Levs is following the latest stream of information on the earthquake online and I'm sure you're hearing a lot from people that are very close to where this quake struck.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are. I have so much to show you. Every time we pop in every few minutes there are some brand-new things. What I want to do now is catch up, want to put some of the hottest pictures we've seen today. Some of these coming from the Associated Press that have come in.

Let's zoom way in. I want you to see some of these pictures that are really powerful. Some of them are coming from Santiago, also Talca. This right here, I don't know if you can tell very well on your screen, but this was a continuous highway. It appears to be ripped apart right there. You have cars that have been turned upside down, are covered in some rubble.

I'm going to flash you through a few more of these photos right here. This was a home inside Santiago, this entire street filled with rubble. You can't even really tell that it was a street at one point. Now we're over in Talca. This is a historic hotel, all these pictures from the AP.

This is a tourist here who was taking a shot of you can see of what used to be a hotel sign right there. That area completely destroyed. We have a few more pictures here, some of them pretty gruesome, showing destroyed cars, destroyed homes, in some cases you see what appear to be stretchers and people being lifted out. We don't know the conditions on all of them.

Another thing that's happening online that's really big is a lot of people are really concerned about their relatives today. I spoke earlier with one woman. I want you to hear what she told me now because then I have an update for you. Here's what she said.

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KARINA ORTIZ, SEARCH FOR LOVED ONE: All the lights are down. We have family in (INAUDIBLE) which is connected to Concepcion through a bridge. And right (INAUDIBLE) now they showed the bridge and it's completely collapsed. There's no way they can get through. There's just absolutely no way.

On Twitter I put all of my family's names up. On Facebook, I have all of their pictures up. Everyone's doing the same. We're all Twittering the same exact thing, trying to get as much information out there as possible, hoping that if there is one contact in (INAUDIBLE) they could find the rest for us.

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LEVS: Wow. Now, in her case, it worked, which is why I wanted to bring her back just to let you know. I got an e-mail from her letting us know that she managed to receive word. They reached out online every which way, made every phone call they could come up with and they have now heard that her grandparents are OK. They're still concerned about some other relatives.

In this case, in terms of the immediacy of this, it obviously brings back memories of what we saw in Haiti but in a very different situation now in Chile. A lot of people concerned about their loved ones, a lot of people turning to the Internet, posting photos, videos or just messages.

Let's zoom back in. I want to show you a few key places on Twitter. If you've never joined, today is a good day for it if you're following this story. This is cnnbrk. This is where we bring you the absolute latest confirmed information that we have here at CNN at any given time. So if you're on Twitter, follow cnnbrk for all of the latest as we get it throughout the day. And we'll just mention, we also have I-reports coming in right now.

This one is a little bit dark, but this is the first I-report that we got here from inside Santiago. We are hearing that, in this particular case, the family that lives in that home is OK. We certainly want to get your I-report, your photos, your videos, your stories, whatever it is you got.

And, guys, I will be along next hour with some of this also with some of my conversation earlier today with a guy who is doing a lot of tweeting from the scene himself, Elliott Yamin of "American Idol." We'll be hearing from that that's next hour.

NGUYEN: All right. Very good, Josh, some great information there. Thank you. And if you have a loved one in Chile or are trying to get some information as to anyone -- friends, family who are down there -- you want to write down this contact number, 1-888-407-4747. That is the toll-free phone number for the U.S. State Department bureau of consular affairs.

MARCIANO: Our breaking news coverage continues after the short break. Stay with us.

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MARCIANO: The South American nation of Chile in a state of shock after a massive earthquake. Here's what we know right now. The quake had a magnitude 8.8, and that's about, well, 500 times stronger than the quake that hit Haiti. It struck before dawn near heavily populated areas about 200 miles from the capital of Santiago.

At least 122 deaths are reported, but that number likely to climb because of the scope of the damage you're seeing. The quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific basin, including the state of Hawaii. Sirens have already sounded there to alert people of the potential tsunami scheduled to arrive sometime around 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. local time.

NGUYEN: All right. We want to get the latest on the emergency crews and the response to a disaster of this kind of magnitude. Tracy Reines is the director of the international response operations for the Red Cross and she joins us by phone -- actually, no, we can see her now. She joins us by satellite.

Give us an idea, Tracy, of what is in place right now to assist those in need.

TRACY REINES, AMERICAN RED CROSS: The Chilean Red Cross is -- has a long history in Chile obviously and has about 35 branches in the area that was affected by the earthquake. So the Chilean Red Cross is on the ground and the Red Cross based there is working with the government to do flyover assessments to determine what the need actually is and what the capacity is in Chile at the moment.

MARCIANO: So, what's the first order of business? I mean, do you set up a headquarters ...

NGUYEN: Shelters?

MARCIANO: ... or set up shelters for people who will obviously be displaced? What's the main order of business first off?

REINES: In any disaster like this, between the government and the Red Cross and other organizations, it's going to be of course search and rescue. It's going to be immediate shelter needs and it's going to be health needs for people with traumatic injuries.

So, part of that will be provided by the government, part of that could be provided by the Red Cross and other organizations based in Chile. But absolutely the Red Cross is there and also have several regional resources both in terms of people, equipment, money, supplies that can go to Chile to assist as well.

NGUYEN: I know it's still early on, but are you prepared and do you have enough resources for a long-term relief, long-term care? REINES: I think it is early days and again, a disaster is a disaster. It exceeds the capacity to respond in Chile. So we have to see what actually is beyond the ability of the Chilean government to respond itself. Subsequent to that, though, the Red Cross is a movement with a national society in every country in Latin America. We have a regional hub in Panama that can deploy people, equipment, goods, so we are prepared to respond, no question about it. And the American Red Cross has already released $50,000 to support the effort.

MARCIANO: So, money released, people are on standby to launch in there or are on their way in there. But right now we have the airport that's closed at least for 24 hours. What are authorities telling you as far as getting the supplies and people in there by air?

REINES: Right. Well, that's part of the reason that the Red Cross is so powerful, because of the agreements they have with the governments before a disaster like this happens. So, again, we're going to be relying on the Chilean Red Cross to begin with to use the supplies they already have in country.

So we are starting on that premise. And then we work regionally subsequent to that. But again it is a bit early days so we are ready as soon as those airports open and as soon as we can come in if we need to. But again, we have resources on the ground in Chile to do the response already.

MARCIANO: Tracy Reines, director of international response operations for the Red Cross. Thank you very much Tracy and good luck in the coming days and weeks.

REINES: Thank you for having us.

NGUYEN: There's definitely a lot of work ahead. As you can tell just by the pictures that are coming into the CNN NEWSROOM. We have much more on the Chilean earthquake straight ahead.

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NGUYEN: Welcome back. We want to get you more information on this breaking news out of Chile where a massive 8.8 magnitude quake has struck, 122 people are reported dead so far, but there is a lot of information still coming in. We are getting some more right now via ambassador.

MARCIANO: We have heard from the Red Cross. We heard from people on the ground. We want to talk to Chile's ambassador to the UK. He's joining us live from London. Rafael Moreno, good morning to you sir. What can you tell us about the state of your country?

RAFAEL MORENO, CHILEAN AMBASSADOR TO UNITED KINGDOM: We are following very closely what is going on. We are very sad, to be honest. Although the Chileans, we know that we are exposed to earthquakes and tsunamis, but this has been so drastic, so severe that it is really significant for the people and the families. We know that so far we have 152 people that have died. The construction (ph) area of Concepcion is quite large. There are some buildings that have collapsed, but we do have experience in this, unfortunately. So for one side, we are happy that a tsunami is away. That is a beneficial thing. And the other point is that we are trying to recreate, reproduce a normality, which is not easy. Because in very many cases, the people (INAUDIBLE) they started immediately traveling, moving the cars or walking and that creates an original risk for some people.

The government is functioning from the very early hours as well as (INAUDIBLE) the embassy since early in the morning receiving phone calls and trying to help people, either Chileans or UK citizens that have relatives in Chile, or tourists traveling there.

So the best thing that we can tell them is that the epicenter of the earthquake is concentrated in basically the central part of the country in the Mali (ph) region which is (INAUDIBLE) and Concepcion. The north and the south they are totally out of (INAUDIBLE) We need relief for the families.

NGUYEN: Ambassador, let me ask you this. As you begin to not only assess the damage but continue with search and rescue, are you asking for assistance from the rest of the world?

MORENO: Well, so far we have received some offerings. A few hours ago I had the phone call of two government organizations offering their support. We appreciate that, but we would like to learn what it is we need first in Chile. We do have a scheme, an official scheme that works rather efficiently.

And our communities are, let's say, prepared on the basis that we have experience. But will be communicating to them as soon as we have (INAUDIBLE) under control. The airport has been closed for 72 hours. The runways are OK, but the terminal is a little bit -- has to be checked. That's why we don't want to rush with the situation that we cannot control so far.

MARCIANO: Chilean ambassador to the UK, Rafael Moreno, ambassador, our hearts and prayers are with you and your country. Good luck in the coming days and months as you deal with this tragedy.

MORENO: (INAUDIBLE)

NUGYEN: There's more on the earthquake just ahead, including a conversation with a witness. Stay with us.

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