(8:50 a.m. EST) -- CNN is reporting this morning that a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile, about 200 miles south of the capital city of Santiago. It will rank high among the most powerful quakes in history; the strongest ever recorded, a 9.5, was also in Chile.
A tsunami warning has been issued for Hawaii, and CNN reports that a tsunami is expected to come ashore at 11 a.m. local time (approximately 4 p.m. EST); evacuations will begin in a few hours.
Australia, Asia and even the West Coast of the U.S. are also on alert.
Cruise lines currently sailing in Hawaii and South America include NCL, Silversea, Celebrity, Princess, Cunard, Oceania and Holland America. At this point, we have received no word of impact on cruise ports or itineraries. We've also contacted Cunard and P&O Australia, regarding possible changes in Australia.
Anchors on CNN have said, mathematically, an 8.8 quake is about 800 times more powerful than the 7.0-magnitude quake that devastated Haiti, showing images of burning buildings and collapsed highways. At this point, 78 people are reported dead. There have been several strong aftershocks.
Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by this morning's tragic events. Stay tuned.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor