chile earthquake
People walk to higher ground for safety, in Valparaiso city September 16, 2015, after a mass evacuation of the entire coastline during a tsunami alert after a magnitude 8.3 earthquake hit off the coast of Chile on Wednesday.Reuters

At least eight people were killed and over one million evacuated after an 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of central Chile, about 232km north-west of capital Santiago at 4:24am IST on Thursday, said reports.

Twelve are reported to have been injured so far. The intensity of the tremor was so strong that buildings shook and people fled in cities like Valparaiso and Santiago, about 250km from the epicentre, reports added.

The Chilean government that initially reported five deaths later on Thursday said that the number had reached eight.

Interior Minister Jorge Burgos told a news conference that the port of Coquimbo had suffered severe damage. He said it was the largest quake in the world this year, Reuters reported.

At least four aftershocks of over 6 magnitude on Richter Scale have been reported. The earthquake produced up to 4.5-metre-high waves along the coast in the region of Coquimbo, BBC reported.

"Tsunami waves reaching more than three metres above the tide level are possible along some coasts of Chile," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warned.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued tsunami warnings, after which the entire Chilean coastline was evacuated.

The quake also triggered tsunami alerts across a wide area stretching north to the California coast and across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and even as far as New Zealand, as per the latest reports.

In 2010, a deadly tremor of 8.8 magnitude and tsunami had killed over 500 people in the South American country.

Check out latest visuals from the area: