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TV: Over 350 People Die in Chile Town of Constitucion After Quake

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More than 350 people died in Chile's coastal town of Constitution after a magnitude-8.8 megaquake and an ensuing tsunami, the country's state television said on Sunday.

Local police confirmed that more than 150 people disappeared in a tsunami caused by a magnitude-6.1 aftershock Sunday morning as big waves stroke the city, taking away vehicles and hitting hard the cement along the coast in Constitucion.

Local police officer Carlos Torres told media that investigation was going on and the death doll could go up. Nearby city of Talca was also affected.

If confirmed, the deal toll could further rise to nearly 800. Earlier, Chile emergency officials said the death toll from Saturday's megaquake had rose to more than 400 people.

An earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale hit southern Chile early Saturday, triggering tsunamis as well as communications and power breakup.

So far some 1.5 million homes, several highways across central Chile, as well as the country's economy were seriously destroyed.

It would take several days to evaluate the "enormous quantity of damage," said President Michelle Bachelet.

A string of about 115 strong aftershocks from 4.6 to 6.9 magnitude have rocked the country.

Later, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on Sunday lifted its tsunami warning for all Pacific nations.

(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2010)

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