Early reports said six people were killed in the quake. Later ones suggested dozens had died and the death toll is expected to rise sharply. Telephone and power lines are down in the capital and there has been damage in the historic centre of Santiago, 200 miles north of the epicentre.
After the main quake, which lasted around 30 seconds and could be felt in neighbouring Argentina, people poured onto the streets, hugging each other and crying. The country was shaken by several aftershocks for around two hours after the quake struck.