Chile earthquake: Former Kingsley and Highgate man tells of panic

Chile earthquake: emergency vehicles near Valparaiso, about 100km from the epicentre. Inset: former Kingsley resident Dan Moller.
Chile earthquake: emergency vehicles near Valparaiso, about 100km from the epicentre. Inset: former Kingsley resident Dan Moller.

A FORMER Perth resident holidaying in Chile has described the panic on the ground after this morning’s huge 8.3 magnitude earthquake in Santiago.

Dan Moller, who grew up in Kingsley and Highgate but now resides in London, was holidaying with family earlier this morning (Perth time) when the quake hit.

The trio was in Valparaiso, about 100km from the epicentre, when the disaster occurred.

“We had been out for the day and were taking a break in the hostel when the wall of our room suddenly started shaking,” he said.

“We’re in a UNESCO world heritage area and the buildings are old – the door keeps getting stuck – so we thought someone was trying to get into the room.

“Then I noticed it seemed a bit too forceful and could hear things shaking outside as well.

“I checked out the window and confirmed it was an earthquake with power lines bouncing too – we grabbed some things and ran downstairs where people were sheltering under furniture and in doorways.”

Mr Moller said the shaking continued for about a minute before it stopped – but was then followed by a series of aftershocks and tsunami sirens.

“People started getting emergency broadcast alerts on their phones, so in a bit of a panic we went back upstairs to get valuables like passports and clear out to higher ground,” he said.

The three tourists spent about two hours at higher ground with locals and tourists accompanied by emergency vehicles and fire fighters.

Eventually the all clear was given and they were allowed to return to lower ground.

“Everyone’s a little on edge,” he said.

“Even now there are more announcements going on outside over the citywide PA.

“The fact that all these announcements are in Spanish adds to the confusion for us a little.”

Mr Moller said the three of them were due to fly home on September 18.

“We’re just hoping Santiago airport is fully operational in time for us to head back – last we had heard it was closed.”

He said aftershocks were continuing in the area as the story was being written.