Central Chile was devastated by one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history when an 8.8-magnitute quake struck off its coast on February 27, 2010, triggering a powerful Pacific-wide tsunami. The earthquake cost 521 lives, injured 12,000 and left more than 800,000 people homeless. Concepción, 115km southeast of the epicentre, was hardest hit, with looting and violence bringing further chaos to the city. The cities of Curicó, Talca and Chillán also suffered severe damage, while the tsunami washed away parts of the coastal towns of Constitución, Talcahuano, Pichilemu and Iloca. The cities of Valparaíso and Santiago sustained some, albeit comparatively small, damage.
Roads and bridges were repaired soon after the earthquake, and in the ensuing months and years the region has picked itself up and rebuilt with heroic determination. Note however that many of the region’s century-old adobe homes and haciendas, particularly those in the Colchagua Valley, are lost forever or have expensive and lengthy renovations ahead of them.