The emergency service immediately issued a tsunami warning and ordered the evacuation of the beach area of the base. " #SHOA indicates a 7.1 magnitude earthquake 216 km NE of O'higgins Base, Chilean Antarctica, State of precaution. ONEMI requests to leave the beach area of the Antarctic territory," the message indicates.
"According to the Tsunami Threat established for the Antarctic territory by the states established by #SHOA the estimated time of arrival would be the following. ANTARTICA, PRAT BASE 01-23-2021 21:17 ", continues the message.
The automatic message caused panic in the continental population and reached all cell phones by mistake, minutes after two earthquakes of less intensity occurred in the regions of Coquimbo and Maule and in Santiago.
"ATTENTION. We inform that message sent to cell phones corresponds to evacuation at Antarctica base. Our technicians are reviewing SAE system failure" they later reported to reassure the population.
After the 7.1-degree earthquake in Antarctica, there were different smaller magnitude aftershocks according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
ONEMI reported that, as a preventive measure, 80 people had already been evacuated from Base Frei, 40 from Base O'Higgins, 10 from Base Fildes and 31 from Base Prat . In addition, 5 foreign bases near Fildes Base have been evacuated.
The Eduardo Frei Base of the Chilean Air Force is located 1,230 km south of the continent, on King George Island. It is the largest Chilean base in this territory which also includes Villa Las Estrellas, a hospital, a school, a bank, a small supermarket, a post office and a chapel, among other services. The maximum population in summer is 150 people, and the average population in winter is 80.
Chile, one of the most seismic countries in the world, suffered on February 27, 2010 a powerful earthquake of magnitude 8.8 in the city of Concepción that left more than 500 dead. Meanwhile, 60 years ago, it suffered the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, of 9.6 magnitude, in the city of Valdivia, in southern Chile.