Yesterday there was a an 8.0 earthquake off the coast of Chile. It was over 900 miles away from Santiago and according to our on-site staff they did not feel it, nor were buildings/homes affected. A tsunami warning was in effect up to 6.2 miles off the coastline. Santiago is approximately 60 miles from Valparaiso, which is on the Chilean coastline. For some additional information, you can go here.
Within minutes of the earthquake, we were working to confirm the locations of our students and remind them of safety procedures. Communication at first, as you can imagine, was difficult as phone lines were not working well. But via email and social media, and telephone when possible, we were able to confirm the safety of all our students.
USAC students were just sent a reminder in the beginning of March on the procedures if there is an earthquake (as a follow-up to the information presented to them during the on-site orientation both verbally and in a PDF version). Our host families also are requested each term to discuss with students what to do if there was an earthquake as well as receiving an Earthquake Emergency Procedure document to discuss further with the student they are hosting.
Our thoughts and condolences are with those in the communities directly affected by the earthquake.
Update on aftershock: There was an 7.6 aftershock on April 2 in the same area of northern Chile (around 16 miles south of Iquique, which is over 1,000 miles from Santiago). This area borders Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina. A tsunami alert was given for but only for the northern coastal towns since Chile is a very long country. There have been no problems in our city or school infrastructure and classes are being held normally.