ANTOFAGASTA, Chile (CNN) - An eight-point-two magnitude earthquake happened off the coast of northern Chile, about 60 miles northwest of Iquique, just before 9 p.m. local time.
Residents fled the coast when they learned the earthquake triggered a tsunami.
Officials announced tsunami warnings for Chile, Peru and Ecuador and watches for Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica -- though those warnings were later dropped.
The president of Chile declared disaster areas in three northern provinces.
"I would like to make a call to the people who live in the areas to keep calm, to follow the instructions of the local authorities, and local authorities, and do everything that is necessary to ensure the security of themselves and their families," Michelle Bachelet, Chile President said.
Several people were reported dead as the earthquake triggered small landslides and cut off phones and electricity.
Officials said members of the air force were on their way to the port city of Iquique, where about 300 prisoners managed to escape in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.
Officials as far away as Hawaii worried about the potential impact there and asked people to stay out of the water.
"If you're not ready for it, you can get into difficulty, and if you're in the water, you can get banged about, so we really want to keep people out of the water, close to the coast," Gerard Fryer, with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
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