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Chilean earthquake hits wine regions

The devastating earthquake that hit Chile last night, causing the evacuation of around one million people, had its epicentre in the country’s Coquimbo wine region.

At least 5 people have died as a result of the 8.3-magnitude earthquake, which struck off the coast of Coquimbo at around 8pm local time (11pm GMT).

According to reports, the resulting tsunamis have been battering the coast of the country with waves up to 4.5m high, threatening the country’s coastal vineyards.

Tsunami warnings have now been called off in Chile, but authorities in Hawaii, New Zealand and California are on alert as the waves travel across the Pacific ocean.

While the quake had it’s epicentre in the Coquimbo wine region, which contains the Elqui, Limari and Choapa valleys, it severely damaged conurbations all across the central part of the country, as far south as the Bio-Bio valley.

The drinks business has been working to contact wineries across Chile, but with the clean-up operation underway, it may some take time before the impact of the disaster can be fully assessed.

Anita Jackson, from Wines of Chile, told db that she has been sending messages to the trade body’s Santiago office for information, but is yet to receive a response as “power and communications are likely to be down.”

The VSPT Wine Group, which owns several Chilean wine brands including Leyda and Viñamar, has reported that no damage has been caused to its wineries or offices. It said: “Everything is fine here at the offices. We have no damage in our vineyards or wineries.”

In a follow-up statement, the group said: “Fortunately, the human team comprising VSPT Wine Group and its families are fine, without loss of life nor possessions to lament.

“With regards to our facilities and vineyards in Chile and Argentina, it has been determined they did not suffer any damage and are in conditions to operate normally. Furthermore, connectivity and communications around the country has normalised.”

This story will be updated when more details can be found.

Source: The Drinks Business