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Gemini South Telescope hit by severe earthquake, closed until further notice
La Serena was hit by a 8.4 earthquake last night at 19:54 local time, with epicenter 150km from La Serena. Fortunately the staff at the summit and all staff in La Serena are all fine. A first check of the telescope and installations where done after the quake and nothing obvious was seen, but it was decided to cancel the night. A thorough inspection of the telescope on the day after the earthquake it was found that the telescope has shifted on the azimuth platform. The telescope will remain closed over the weekend and the following week, and thus the GEMS/GSAOI run is canceled.
Next week further diagnosis of the event will take place and we will then be able to assess better the extent of the damage and the steps needed to restore the telescope into working order.
In spite of the strength of the quake and tsunami, there where a few casualties in the region. Our thoughts go out to the people that lost their lives and houses due to the quake and the following tsunami that hit strongly the coastal area.
Fredrik T Rantakyro
Acting Head of Science Operations