Massive earthquake off Chilean coast sparks tsunami warning
Residents in Chile's Iquique stand in the street following a tsunami alert after a 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit off the Pacific coast on April 1, 2014 [AFP]

A powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit off Chile's Pacific coast on Tuesday, sparking a tsunami warning for Chile, Peru and Ecuador, US officials said.

The quake struck at 846 pm local time (2346 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles), 83 kilometers from Iquique on Chile's northern coast, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning.

Chilean authorities also issued a tsunami alert after the quake, which they registered at 7.9.

Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, and a large earthquake has long been expected in the north of the country.

In February 2010, central and southern Chile were hit by a powerful earthquake of 8.8-magnitude followed by a tsunami that devastated dozens of towns.

The quake left more than 500 dead and $30 billion in damage to infrastructure.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]