For some Chileans, the massive earthquake that struck Saturday was terrifyingly familiar. Almost 50 years ago, Valdivia was rocked by a 9.5-magnitude quake, the biggest in recorded history. “We were sleeping, and then the house began to rise up,” says one Valdivia resident, recalling how the quake sent her home rocking back and forth, furniture flying across the room. "We’re still terrified."
The town’s concrete docks, built after the 1960 quake, split in two. In a way, the country’s past experience with such quakes paid off. Seismologists say the 8.8-magnitude quake was drastically stronger than the 7.0 quake that devastated Haiti, causing roughly 500 times more shaking. Yet many buildings withstood the incident well, GlobalPost observes, because the country, aware that it's among the world's most seismically active spots, has extremely strict building codes.