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8.8 Earthquake Rocks Chile; Aftershocks Continue; Pacific Region Tsunami Spares Hawaii, Heads Towards Japan

Aired February 27, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Thank you, Don.

Good evening. At least 214 people are dead after an 8.8 magnitude quake rocked Chile early Saturday morning. Two million people have been affected. Witnesses are reporting aftershocks about every hour.

A resulting tsunami has ravaged parts of the Chilean coast, fanned out across the Pacific. Warnings were posted in Hawaii. While the surf did rise a little, Hawaii is no longer facing the threat. Japan says a major tsunami of up to three meters, that is nine feet, could still hit northern Japanese coastal areas.

We just got new video of what the scene was like in Chile moments after the quake. Watch.




KING: Let's begin with Jacqui Jeras, our meteorologist and CNN weather anchor. She is in Atlanta.

Jacqui, for the benefit of those who may have just joined us, may have been out all day on this Saturday across the United States and around the world, what happened today?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Wow. The earth moved, Larry. And it is such an incredible force. This is one of the strongest earthquakes that has ever been recorded in history. This was an 8.8 magnitude earthquake. We have two plates that come together here in a very active fault line. It shook the ground incredibly, causing major, major, major damage.

As a result of that earthquake, it created what we call a tsunami. So a tsunami is something that occurs when the earth's plates, as they shift and move together, will get an upward thrust of that crust. That will push the water up and propagate waves and move them inland.

We had warnings in effect, many, many countries across the globe. Those warnings were in effect. Now we only have them in effect still for Russia and Japan.

Tsunamis were recorded on Chile about eight feet high. And we had some recordings in New Zealand as well as Hawaii but they were only about three feet deep.

As we go forward into the future, we will be watching these waves continue to move across the Pacific basin. And we will be concerned about Russia and Japan as we head into eastern times of maybe 11:00, 12:00 midnight.

To put this into historical perspective for you Larry, here are the largest earthquakes we've had recorded. Ironically, the strong was a 9.5 that happened about 200 miles away from the one that happened today. You can see the one that occurred today, an 8.8. When we talk about what happened in Haiti a couple of weeks ago, about a month ago or so, this earthquake today was about 500 times more populated.

KING: Jacqui, you stay close. We'll be checking back with you.

Let's go on the phone to Rolando Santos, senior vice president, CNN international. He is currently situated in Santiago, Chile.

What is the situation there, Rolando?

ROLANDO SANTOS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Well, it is obviously late in the evening now. Most people have settled in for the evening in Santiago.

I think there are three things that are going on right now. This is a population that is used to earthquakes. They have a long history of earthquakes, but by any standard, this shook up the population, partly because it covered so much territory. And as the day went on, Larry, we got to see more and more of the destruction outside of Santiago.

I'd said, based on what our reporters are saying to us and what I'm observing right here, there are three basic feelings that are going on. At this point, there is a lot of shock, given the amount of destruction, particularly in the areas outside of Santiago. The second thing that's going on is there is a lot of uncertainty because of the lines of communication. Telephones are not working. People don't know where their loved ones are, family members are. They are using Twitter and social networks. And then the last thing is there is a lot of anxiousness. That's because we have had more than 33 aftershocks. Some of those aftershocks have been better than 6.9 and felt as far away as Argentina. So that is the feeling at this point.

KING: Wow.

We check in with Thelma Gutierrez, our CNN correspondent, who happened to be in Hawaii on a family vacation. We followed her doings all day.

And you got lucky, right, Thelma? Nothing really serious happened there? THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Larry, I can tell you that people here are breathing a huge sigh of relief. This morning, about 6:00, the sirens went off in the towns right above us. But then, the sirens started going off right here at the Hilton Waikoloa. Suddenly, people were pounding on the doors to make sure the guests were up and out. That is exactly what we did, Larry.

All of a sudden, I get a phone call from the hotel, saying you've got to go. There is a tsunami warning. I had to gather my family and kids and whatever we could take, and quickly get out the door.

They took us to this evacuation center. There were maybe 1,000 guests who were at that center, and in addition to that, 500 employees. This is just one resort, Larry. We watched from big screens as this thing played out. And thankfully, nothing happened.

I think the swells they saw here from the hotel's roof top were probably no more than half a foot. So people here, very relieved tonight.

KING: You are not kidding.

Jacqui Jeras, why were they wrong about Hawaii?

JERAS: Well, you know, it is not an exact science, Larry. We knew the tsunami occurred, the waves were out there. I don't think they were necessarily wrong about Hawaii. They had a tsunami. It just happened to be three-feet high as opposed to six or eight-feet high. That can make all the difference in the world. Even a three- foot tsunami, if you are standing there on the beach, it would hit up to your knees or so. That would be enough to knock you down off your feet. You could potentially get caught up in that. So it is very dangerous. Any little huts or businesses along the beach, they could have been washed out today. So I wouldn't say they were wrong. They just overestimated it a little bit.

KING: Rolando, on the phone with us.

You say the aftershocks are -- oh, Rolando is gone. I was going to ask him about -- we'll ask Jacqui.

6.9 aftershock, isn't that an earthquake?


JERAS: Absolutely. that's an earthquake. That is what aftershocks are. You have the big initial quake, the big jolt at 8.8. The crusts are going to try to settle in and move and shift until the pressure has been released just a little bit. When you have one this strong, you are literally going to have hundreds of aftershocks. We could potentially get a 7.0 aftershock or more. And when you start looking at a 7.0 or more of magnitude, potentially, that could trigger another tsunami. So we're going to be watching this.

Most of the aftershocks -- there have been 50 by now, by the way. Most of these are more like 6.0, 5.0. Many of them are offshore and they've been very, very deep. and so the deeper the earthquake occurs, the less likely you are going to be feeling that on the surface. But we could have these aftershocks, Larry, not just days, not just for weeks, not just for months, but we could have them for over a year.

KING: Wow.

More of our coverage of the 8.8 earthquake in Chile. Stay with us.


KING: Joining us now by beeper is Ambassador Paul Simons, the United States ambassador to Chile.

Mr. Ambassador, what is the status of our embassy and the staff there?

PAUL SIMONS, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHILE: Well, first of all, thank you, Larry. We're doing quite well here, Larry. Most of us have been up since 3:30 this morning when the shake originally occurred. and within an hour, we had a skeleton staff of about 15 or 20 embassy employees in the embassy itself, reaching out to make sure that our other U.S. government employees were safe. We believe we have accounted for all of our more or less 100 U.S. employees.

But, of course, our broader responsibilities are to the more or less 18,000 U.S. citizens who reside or visit Chile at any given time. We activated our Warden Network. We reached out to all of the affects areas through e-mail, phone, to the extent we could, although the systems were down a good chunk of the day. And as of now, we are aware of no fatalities or serious injuries to any U.S. citizens. But with the caveat that, in the epicenter city of Concepcion, we still have no response back through our Warden Network.

KING: Mr. Ambassador, the president pledged the United States will be there if Chile asks for rescue and recovery assistance. Has the government asked you for any assistance yet?

SIMONS: They have not, Larry. It is interesting to note, Chile is a country that is seismically active. They have 120 active volcanoes. They have a huge earthquake about every 25 years. And they are rather good at search and rescue. So in the early stages -- in fact, they were one of the big contributors to Haiti in the first couple of days. They sent teams out there. So they've told us straight up --, because we had teams ready to deploy. They said, well, we don't need immediate search-and-rescue teams. But we may need specialized support later on.

So we are working very closely with the government of Chile. We have our disaster relief people in direct contact, our military in direct contact. As soon as we identify a fit, as the president noted, we will be there for them.

KING: Another thing, Secretary of State Clinton is scheduled to leave tomorrow for a scheduled for a trip through the region, including a stop in Chile. Has anything changed?

SIMONS: The secretary spoke today with President Bachelet about that trip and they agreed they would keep in touch. Certainly, we want to make sure any visit is something that moves the process forward here. But the secretary and President Bachelet know each other very well. They are close friends. President Obama is very close to President Bachelet. They also had a conversation today. We would like to do whatever we can to be as helpful as possible.

KING: Thank you, Ambassador. We'll be calling on you again. Terrific work for us, thank you.

SIMONS: Thank you.

KING: Ambassador Paul Simons.

In Atlanta is Carolina Escobar, an anchor for CNN Espanol. She went to school in Concepcion. That's about 70 miles from the quake's epicenter.

Your family is there, we understand. Have you heard from them?

CAROLINA ESCOBAR, CNN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, yes, my family is in Santiago. I have friends and dear friends still in Concepcion. As you said before, I went to school and university in that city.

I have heard from my parents, my brothers, my sisters, they are all fine. There are still dear, dear friends I haven't been able to locate yet, but I'm hoping they are fine.

KING: Do you think the experience your country has had is helping.

ESCOBAR: Well, Larry. Yes. We are born knowing that there are several earthquakes you will live throughout your life. Of course, you cannot be prepared for an 8.8 earthquake. That is something that will especially give you a surprise, if you're in the middle of the night sleeping and the light is out. But, yes, we all know what an earthquake means, what you should be doing, what you should do.

KING: Thank you, Carolina. We will check with you later as well.

We'll be right back with more. At least 214 are dead, two million affected. More reports from Chile as this special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" continues.


KING: Before we check in with the seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, let's go by Skype to Chile to Elliott Yamin. Elliott Yamin is member of season five of "American Idol." He was a finalist that year. He's been tweeting all day about this quake.

What were you doing in Chile? ELLIOTT YAMIN, FINALIST ON "AMERICAN IDOL": We were there performing at the (INAUDIBLE) 2010 huge musical in Vina del Mar.

KING: Where were you when the earthquake hit?

YAMIN: I was in my room on the seventh floor of my hotel. Luckily, I got out unscathed and unharmed. And I'm very lucky to be alive.

KING: Mr. Yamin, have you experienced anything like this before? Have you ever been in an earthquake?

YAMIN: Yes. I lived in Las (INAUDIBLE), so I was about 7, 8, and I think 10. just before we moved away, we experienced a heavy duty earthquake. This is the first real big earthquake I have been in since I was a young child.

KING: Thanks, Elliott. We'll be checking back with you. You have been doing yeoman-like work all day.

Let's go to Golden, Colorado, and Paul Earle. He's a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

What to you, Paul, is the most significant thing that happened today?

PAUL EARLE, SEISMOLOGIST, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: The most significant thing is really the size of this earthquake. This is a magnitude 8.8 earthquake. This is the fifth-largest instrumentally recorded earthquake on record. This is a very big earthquake. It is the first earthquake since 1964 that has caused a Pacific-wide tsunami warning. This is a very big event.

KING: The fault system where it occurred, does that get a lot of quakes?

EARLE: Yes. It is a very active fault system. You've got the tectonic plates. In this case, you have the Nazca plate subducting beneath the South American plate, fairly rapidly, at the rate of eight centimeters a year, about three inches a year these plates collide. The oceanic Nazca plate goes beneath the South American plate in this area. It generates a lot of earthquakes. We've had 13 magnitude 7 and larger earthquakes in this area since 1973. So it's a very seismically active area. And just to the south of this recent earthquake was the largest earthquake on -- that we have recorded with instruments, which was a magnitude 9.5 earthquake in 1960.

KING: You are not surprised by the aftershocks?

EARLE: We are certainly not surprised by the aftershocks in this earthquake. A magnitude 8.8 earthquake will have a robust aftershock sequence. As we've seen here, we have an aftershock of -- the largest aftershock so far has been 6.9. That, in itself, is almost as large as the Haiti earthquake. We've had 50 or more earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or larger. This will decrease in the coming days, but they will continue to have earthquakes in the weeks, months and years to follow.

KING: The earth can be a rambunctious place. Any connection at all between Haiti and Chile?

EARLE: No. This is -- the Haiti earthquake was quite a distance away from this earthquake. You can have earthquakes affected by other nearby -- it's more likely that they'll be effected by nearby earthquakes. But the stresses that were rearranged by the Haiti earthquake were not large enough to affect this area.

KING: Paul is going to stay with us, because we are going to check back with him throughout the rest of this hour.

We are going to check in with a member of Chile's Olympic team when we come back.


KING: Joining us from Vancouver, British Columbia, is Noelle Barahona, an alpine skier, a member of Chile's Olympic team, the team that is trying to get home as soon as possible.

Do you think you are going to go home before the closing ceremonies, Noelle?

NOELLE, SKIIER, CHILEAN OLYMPIC TEAM: Definitely, we are not. Our flight right now is scheduled for March 4th. So the closing ceremony is tomorrow, so I will be walking behind the flag tomorrow.

KING: Have you heard from family and friends in Chile?

BARAHONA: My family, my parents are here right now, because they came to watch my races. so thank god they're all right. The rest of my family is fine. My house is still standing with some minor damage. My family home, the roof fell. And some walls are on the floor, too, because it was a really old house. But there were no injured in my family, thank God.

KING: Have you experienced an earthquake?

BARAHONA: I was in Chile during the 2005 earthquake that hit the north of Chile. It wasn't half as bad as this one. There was eight dead people. So I have heard that this one was very, very strong and it was felt very hard.

KING: But, Noelle, you are telling us that the Chilean Olympic team will be in the parade tomorrow night in the final ceremony?

BARAHONA: The two boys that were here for alpine skiing as well have already left. One went to France and the other went to Canada with his family. I am going to be the only athlete walking in the closing ceremony. And my coach is going to be there as well, and the president of the team.

KING: Thank you. Noelle Barahona, we are glad everybody in your concern is safe. Back to Paul Earle, our seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

When are we going to be able to forecast these things, Paul?

He stepped away. I'm sorry to hear that.

We will take a break and come right back.


KING: Before we check back with Paul Earle, let's go by phone to Tokyo. Kyung Lah, our CNN correspondent is there.

What is the latest on the tsunami warning for the Japanese coast, Kyung?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, this is a country used to tsunami warnings. What caught our attention -- and it is Sunday morning here -- this is the first major tsunami warning that Japan has seen in more than 15 years. The government here has activated setting up a task force. And local governments have now issued tens of thousands of residents to begin evacuating.

The impact area is the entire coast of Japan. The entire main island, the northern part of the main island, is looking at tsunami waves potentially, according to the meteorological agency here, of more than nine feet, so that is significant. Rail service has been stopped, and people have been warned to get out of the low-lying areas.

Now, Japan is used to tsunamis, as I said. This is a country that is an island nation, and so people are well versed in how to evacuate. But certainly, we are going through a drill of a very serious tsunami beginning to approach this country. And it's expected to arrive here, Larry, in about an hour-and-a-half.

KING: Kyung, can you tell us about what major city might be in trouble?

LAH: The major cities aren't specifically impacted. We have Tokyo, which is further inland. We have a number of major metropolitan areas that are inland. What we're looking at are the fishing areas, the coastal areas, the resort areas. That's what's really going to be impacted here.

But still, if they're looking at a tsunami that could hit the northern part of Japan that's up to nine feet, that's tens of thousands of people who are potentially impacted, homes that could be destroyed. But again, right now, they're going through the drill, the government taking these measures in part because in 1960, when the quake happened in Chile, 140 people died in Japan because they weren't prepared. So this is the preparations, the steps to make sure that people are not killed if this thing happens.

KING: So Japan preparing for the worst. Kyung Lah will be hanging around, we are sure, through the night.

Back to Paul Earle, and we'll check in with Jacqui Jeras again in a moment. Paul, when are these things going to be predictable?

EARLE: It's going to be a long time, and maybe never in terms of when we can actually predict exactly the time and magnitude of an earthquake. However, we have a good idea of where they're likely to occur. For example, in Chile, it's no surprise to have an earthquake this size in this area. This is a very long fault line that can support very huge earthquakes like this. We just can't tell you exactly when and where, so people have to plan accordingly, knowing that it could happen at any time.

KING: Why did Haiti suffer so much more deaths?

EARLE: There's a number of reasons. One is the earthquake fault in Haiti was right there on the surface. It ruptured the crust very close to Port-au-Prince. Another is infrastructure. The infrastructure in Haiti was not as seismically resistant as some of the infrastructure in Chile. There are other details about the type of shaking that these earthquakes can produce.

This particular earthquake, this very large earthquake, produces maybe potentially less high-energy shaking or high-frequency shaking than the earthquake in Haiti. So there are subtleties in the earthquake that go beyond just the magnitude that determine how much damage an earthquake can do.

KING: Stay right there, Paul. Let's check in with our friend, Duane "Dog" Chapman, the star of the A&E reality series "Dog the Bounty Hunter." He is in Kona, Hawaii. You live there, don't you, Dog?

DUANE "DOG" CHAPMAN, STAR, "DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER": No (INAUDIBLE) my son (INAUDIBLE) does. We came over -- we're filming catching fugitives. And we kind of got caught up in the tsunami.

KING: Did -- do you know anybody who had to evacuate? How did Kona -- how was Kona prepared for what might have happened and didn't?

CHAPMAN: Well, Larry, the whole Hawaiian island chain, all the shorelines evacuated. So within about a quarter mile from the ocean, the whole islands, every one of them, evacuated because, you know, it was very serious.

What's crazy about it, Larry, is this is, like, whale season right now, and the guys out there said the whales disappeared and everything. The birds came in. The seagulls came in. I mean, it was amazing that, you know, Mother Nature just stopped what could have been a huge catastrophe.

KING: When you evacuated, what did you take with you, Dog?

CHAPMAN: Well, they suggest that you have packets of water, candles, some food, blankets, you know, the basic necessities for at least two days. KING: How worried were you?

CHAPMAN: Well, we were very worried because the whole -- you know, at 2:00 o'clock in the morning, the sirens went off, and at 6:00 o'clock, the sirens went off and on and off and on. I've never been in an air raid, but it felt like that. So all the kids, luckily, were here, but everyone was -- you know, we did what they said, we evacuated, took a chance that, you know, something might happen. Thank God it didn't.

KING: What's the weather like right now??

CHAPMAN: Larry, the weather's about 82. The wind's about 10 miles an hour. And it's really -- it's kind of -- it's kind of -- it's beautiful, but it's kind of very calm, like there was a storm.

KING: Thanks, Dog. On the scene, Duane "Dog" Chapman.

Jacqui Jeras, are you surprised that this has spread as far as it has, possibly now Tokyo?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, not surprised at all, in fact, Larry. You know, these tsunamis that get generated will often travel all the way across the Pacific basin. You know, we haven't seen a Pacific-wide warning like this in years and years and years. But you know, when you're talking about the ocean, you know, there's nothing really in between here to stop those waves.

You know, it's a big column of water. And you know, we talk about storm surge, Larry, and that's when the wind blows the water up. Well, when we talk about a tsunami, this is the entire column or the entire depth of the ocean. So if you're sitting out here on a cruise ship, you're going to be just fine. In fact, you probably won't ever even feel it. It's just going to feel like the regular waves, the regular, you know, motion in the ocean.

But as it gets up towards the land, you know, as it slopes up back towards the coastline, all that water gets pushed up there, and that's when you start to see those tsunamis being generated. So yes, no big surprise at all that we're going to be watching Japan and Russia in the upcoming hours.

One other thing, Larry, by the way. I just wanted to show you from the Japan meteorological agency -- you were talking about which parts of Japan and how populated they were, whether or not they were going to get hit here. Tokyo is down here. Okinawa is down here. And so this is the area where they think the greatest potential is because of that coastline and that ramp-up here where we could see those 10-foot rises.

KING: Thanks, Jacqui. Don't go away.

Dr. Earle, we've been hearing it all day. What does the word "tsunami" mean?

EARLE: Tsunami just -- it's best to just think of it as what it is. It's a very large ocean-going wave that can transverse the whole ocean at speeds of 600 kilometers per hour, so basically, as fast as a jet plane can go. The misnomer is to think of it as a tidal wave, which is a different -- which is a different feature related to tides. But tsunamis are triggered by a change in the -- in a thrust motion or a down motion in the bottom of the -- in the bottom of the ocean, which causes this wave to travel across the ocean.

KING: Do you know what language the word comes from?

EARLE: It is a Japanese word.

KING: And we'll be back with more on this incredible day. They seem to get more and more of them, don't the. This is a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now on the phone in Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell, the city managing director. He's been serving as Honolulu's acting mayor. The mayor, Mufi Hannemann, is en route back to Hawaii from Washington, where he attended the Conference of Mayors winter meeting. Also with us, Dr. Laura Kong, director of the International Tsunami Information Center.

Kirk, how worried were you about Honolulu?

KIRK CALDWELL, HONOLULU MANAGING DIRECTOR (via telephone): We were very worried, Larry. We took this event extremely seriously. The earthquake of 8.8 on the Richter scale was in the same area that a tsunami was generated back in 1960. I'm from the town of Hilo, is where I grew up. And that earthquake generated a 30-foot wave and killed 30-some-odd people in a tsunami that struck in 1960. So we were very, very concerned. And the earthquake that was generated back in 1960, while larger -- you know, we were fearful, and therefore, we took extreme action to make sure that public safety was protected.

KING: Dr. Kong, when something happens like this and the impact doesn't hit, do you worry that the next time there's a tsunami warning, people might pay less attention?

LAURA KONG, DIR. INTERNATIONAL TSUNAMI INFORMATION CTR. (via telephone): Well, Larry, I think, you know, what we've learned over the last 50 years, because in the U.S. system, it's been in operation since 1949 -- but what we've learned is, you know, with every event, we get a little better and we're able to make more accurate decisions.

For instance, in this particular event, the warning center, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which is part of NOAA, issued its first message 12 minutes after the event. And that's actually a lot better because over the last 10 years, 10 years ago, it used to take upwards of 40 or 50 minutes. So we've made a lot of advances, thanks to the international cooperation.

KING: Kirk, do you think the populace understands, in the main, that these things happen and forewarned is forearmed? CALDWELL: Yes. I do think you're right, Larry. In fact, I think -- as Dr. Kong mentioned, I think we've gone through this now a number of times, and every time we do it, we get better. And the public this time really cooperated. You know, they stayed off the roads. They helped evacuate when they should have.

The last time we went through such an event was back in 1985. We had gridlock on some of the major coastal highways at the time the tsunami would have hit. And if it would have been a major tsunami, people would have drowned in their cars.

This time, the roads were empty. People took it seriously. They left early. And we closed the roads an hour before the tsunami would have struck. So I think working with both Dr. Kong and the civil service people on all the major islands really made a difference this time. And it was a good dry run. You know, we planned for the worst and hoped for the best, and the best occurred in this event.

KING: Dr. Kong, could a tsunami happen at any time of the year, or are there prevalent times?

KONG: You know, what we say is there's no season for tsunamis. Where you can say hurricanes occur in this time of the year...

KING: Yes.

KONG: ... or snow and blizzards occur this time of the year, there's no season for tsunamis. We've got to be ready. We've got to be prepared. And it's really the early warning system. And as we learned in American Samoa, it's that education and outreach, that preparedness that Kirk was mentioning, all that stuff before that's going to save lives.

KING: We thank Kirk Caldwell and Dr. Laura Kong.

And now Jacqui Jeras will show us the differences between the earthquake in Chile today and the earthquake in Haiti last month -- Jacqui.

JERAS: Yes, Larry, you know, lots of differences between the two. When we go up in magnitude on the scale -- the Haiti earthquake was 7.0. Today in Chile was 8.8. Between 7 and 8, you go up about 33 times. And then you do that between 8 and 9. So we're talking about 500 times more powerful, today's earthquake was than the Haitian one.

And let me show you a couple of things here on Google Earth. And we're going to zoom into Chile here and show you this area. And where the epicenter of this was, was offshore and it was maybe three miles away from the coastline. And this is the coastal area where the greatest jolt or the greatest impact would be. And take a look at that. There's nothing there! You can't even find a house on here. So very sparsely populated. Santiago is about 200 miles on up to the north, and you saw how violent that was.

Now let's go ahead and take you into Haiti and show you that earthquake and where that one happened. It happened just outside of Port-au-Prince. It was -- here's Port-au-Prince. Look at these -- these are actually probably aftershocks still -- they happen for months -- since that quake, which happened in January.

And so we'll zoom into Port-au-Prince even more, and it's very populated. This is -- you know, this is the capital of Haiti. This is where millions of people live. And the codes here for buildings is very, very poor, as well. So construction has a little bit to do with it, as well.

This will show you from Haiti how much of the population was impacted by the worst of the jolt. So take a look at this. Here's the worst categories right here, "extreme" and "violent," and that's where you can see hundreds of thousands of people felt the worst of the Haitian earthquake.

Now, as we go over here to the one that happened today in Chile -- expand that out for you a little bit more -- you can see zero percent -- look at that, zero percent of the population saw the extreme...


JERAS: ... or the violent jolt because of that. So that's one of the reasons. Also, the Haiti earthquake was much more of a shallower quake, so it was closer to the surface. And the closer to the surface you are, the more jolting that you're going to feel.

KING: More from survivors next. Don't go away.


KING: Now two survivors, both in Santiago, both with us by Skype. Luke Mescher is an earthquake survivor. He's from Iowa, studying in Chile. And Maria Jose is an earthquake survivor, as well.

Where were you, Luke, when it happened?

LUKE MESCHER, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: I was at my host family's house that I'm living with here in Santiago.

KING: Did you get thrown out of bed?

MESCHER: Just about. I was actually -- I was still awake, communicating with people from back home just before it hit, so I was on the Internet. And the Internet dropped, electricity dropped. And the next thing I knew, my windows were just rattling like crazy and the whole house was shaking, so...

KING: Were you very scared?

MESCHER: I mean, yes and no. I live with a woman and her daughter, and they were both apparently much more scared than I was. So I felt like I had to kind of kick into more of a role of taking charge of the situation. And I was more concerned about getting myself and them just out of the house, or moreso -- it's a huge apartment complex, like, 20 stories, and that was kind of my primary concern, was getting myself outside (INAUDIBLE) underneath the 20 floors.

KING: Maria, do you live in Chile?


KING: Have you experienced earthquake before?

VILLARROEL: We have experienced a lot of, like, shakes, but not (INAUDIBLE) one.

KING: How scared were you?

VILLARROEL: Oh, I was pretty scared. Actually, I was crying, like, under the door (ph) with my family. My brother wasn't here, so we were pretty scared because he was at the beach.

KING: Have you seen a lot of destruction near you, around you?

VILLARROEL: Actually, here in Santiago, there's not a lot of destruction. It's more in south. And we're not -- we were told that we're not supposed to leave the house unless it's strictly necessary. So we have heard that. And we just stay home here.

KING: What's the situation right now?

VILLARROEL: The region here is, like, the sixth (ph) region (ph) in catastrophe (INAUDIBLE) for people until 8 March. And they're estimating, like, 300 dead (ph) people. There's no electricity still for all the city, and there's no public transport. There's a lot of towns...

KING: Going to take a while.


KING: Thank you, Maria Jose and Luke Mescher. We thank you both very much for Skype reports.

What is an 8.8 earthquake really like? What if it hit a city in the United States? We'll talk to experts next.


KING: Joining us here in Los Angeles, Nancy Aossey. She's president and CEO of International Medical Corps, based here. Their organization one of the first responders in Haiti. What's your gauge about how much help they're going to need in Chile?

NANCY AOSSEY, PRES. & CEO, INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS: Well, luckily, in Chile, they have a pretty good search and rescue capability as a country, as you saw earlier on your show. So we're hoping that we can provide specialties that they might not have or certain reinforcements that they might need as a result of the earthquake.

KING: Do they call you or you go there?

AOSSEY: We'll do both. We basically have a team ready on standby, ready to go at any point based on whatever the needs are. We have medical supplies ready to go. In a place like Haiti, where we most recently responded 22 hours after the earthquake, we sent a team right away with trauma kits, with the right (ph) doctors and nurses, the logisticians. What we do is we determine what's most needed, and those people are ready to go instantly.

KING: Too early to tell now?

AOSSEY: Too early to tell. I mean, one of the things International Medical Corps tries to do is -- it's not easy to get people where they need to be and it certainly takes resources, so we want to make sure we send the right kind of help and that we send it to the right places.

KING: Paul Earle, what would happen if an 8.8 hit a city in America?

EARLE: It is actually possible that an 8.8 could hit America. An earthquake this large would most likely happen off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, so off the coast of Washington and Oregon. In 1700, there was a magnitude -- they estimate magnitude 9 earthquake that did rupture there. What it would do, it would do very much the same thing that it did in Chile. It would create a potentially a large tsunami that could transverse the whole Pacific Ocean, and it would create intense shaking that could potentially damage many of the buildings in that area.

KING: And one other thing, Paul. How long will the aftershocks last?

EARLE: These aftershocks will fortunately go down in magnitude as time -- or not in magnitude but in frequency as time goes on. But they could last months and years from now.

KING: And severe ones, too?

EARLE: Yes, severe ones. It's -- the numbers will go down with time, but it is very possible that even after a month or even a year, we could have more severe aftershocks for this earthquake.

KING: Thank you, Paul Earl, seismologist, U.S. Geological Survey.

How is the -- how were they formed, the International Medical Corps?

AOSSEY: Well, we're founded right here, headquartered right here in Los Angeles by a volunteer doctor, Dr. Bob Simon.

KING: How long ago.

It was 1984, in response to the crisis in Afghanistan. Soviet Union invaded, all the people of Afghanistan didn't have access to medical care, very difficult to operate in Afghanistan. So what International Medical Corps did was to focus not only to helping people in remote places and tough places like Afghanistan, but helping them help themselves, training them and providing care through people in the community through training.

KING: Do you think you may be diverted away from Haiti now?

AOSSEY: We won't be diverted. We have a very robust response in Haiti. We have over 70 people on the ground in Haiti. We're treating 1,500 -- or excuse me, 15,000 people a day -- excuse me, 1,500 people a day. And things are very bad and they're very intense, and the work really has just begun because we will be there the long term. However, we do have people on standby that can also go to Chile because we have a whole network of specialists and experts.

KING: So helping Chile will not hurt Haiti?

AOSSEY: You know, hopefully -- hopefully, Chile will be able in large part to care for themselves because they have such a great capacity. However, if they need our help, we are going to be there for them. I do believe right now, everything is shocking the world, there's so much right now going on, and certainly, it's probably overwhelming everybody.

KING: Thank you very much, Nancy. You do outstanding work, and we salute you for that.

AOSSEY: Thank you.

KING: Nancy Aossey, president and CEO of the International Medical Corps.

We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Marie Osmond and her family tonight. Her beloved son, Michael Blosil, has passed away. He was just 18 years old, a tragic loss, a very special young man. His death is under investigation. Our deepest sympathies are with Marie Osmond and her family in this very sad and difficult time.

We thank all of our guests tonight, and we can assure you that CNN, of course, will stay right atop this situation in Chile. And hopefully, the situation is not terrible in Japan as might be forecast. You know, they were forecasting that for Hawaii, and Hawaii got lucky. Hopefully, Japan will get lucky, and the other possible affected areas, as well.

Needless to say, CNN will be atop this scene throughout the night and morning hours. We thank again all of our guests. We invite you to stay tuned for more news around the clock on CNN. This has been a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Good night.