How to handle an earthquake in Chile

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It’s a couple of weeks since I left Chile and the memory of all the earthquakes is still fresh in my mind!

If you live in a bit of the world that shakes, shudders and schleps around, the whining of a random Irish man about earthquakes will be irksome.  But where I come from, the earth certainly did not move under our feet very often.  And if a building shook, you’d be worried it was a bomb. So I’m naturally nervous.

However, I had learned.  I downloaded an earthquake app (bad move) and spotted a couple of earthquakes around the 5-5.5 range on the Richter scale.  Mild shaking.  I had encountered something similar in Japan.  On a Tuesday night, things were worse, prolonged, maybe a 5.9.  When it settled a bit, I wandered down to reception, to find all the non-Chileans ashen-faced and the hotel employees laughingly (in a good way) reassuring everyone there was no problem.

Two nights later, Thursday night, I was settling in for the night, putting on a movie on my iPad.  The shaking started with no preamble, my comfy seat on the bed shaking me off, and my things falling off the desk.  The hangers in the wardrobe rattled and fell and there were noises like gas bubbling through the water in the bathroom.  It lasted for maybe 90 seconds and the floor pitched from side to side like a fairground ride.


People were screaming along the corridor.  Maybe I shouldn’t have taken a room on the top floor!

I just hoped it would calm down and it did.  This time, I was quick smart into the corridor and ran down the stairs.  Even the Chilean guests had come down for this one and the lobby was full of guests.  The receptionist was a little less cheery about this one – which they moved up from a 6.7 to a 7.2.  Luckily, no-one was injured – largely as Chile is so well prepared for quakes and the hotel had been built with quake stabilisation to cope with these exact circumstances.


It was interesting to experience a larger earthquake, but I could quite happily live the rest of my days without experiencing another one!

I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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