Published: February 27, 2010
Updated: February 27, 2010
RICHMOND, Va. — Former “American Idol” finalist and Richmond resident Elliott Yamin escaped injury this morning when a massive earthquake struck Chile.
Interviewed by telephone on NBC’s “Today” show this morning, Yamin recounted the moment the earthquake struck and said some calm had returned to the area.
“It felt very surreal,“ Yamin said. “One minute I’m on the computer typing away and the next there was a very abrupt shaking and rumbling.“ The hotel in which he was staying “was really shaking,“ the singer added.
Yamin said that having lived in Los Angeles he was familiar with earthquakes and tremors and immediately headed to the doorway of his sixth-floor room, trying to alert neighbors who may have been in their rooms.
“I was shouting out to anyone who would listen,“ Yamin said,
Yamin said he was staying about a mile and a half from the coast. “Things are relatively calmer now,“ he said in the interview broadcast shortly after 8 a.m.
Yamin, who is in Viña del Mar for a music festival, began posting messages on Twitter almost immediately after the quake struck at 1:34 a.m. EST. Viña del Mar is about 350 miles north of the epicenter.
“Huge earthquake just now in Chile!!....I swear I thought this was the end of my life!!!!!” he tweeted just moments after the quake hit.
“I just escaped w my life, from an 8.3 earthquake!!!...is everybody ok?” read another message.
The quake, originally reported as magnitude 8.3, was later upgraded to magnitude 8.8. The quake shook the capital, Santiago, for a minute and half and set off a tsunami, the Associated Press reported.
Yamin described the chaotic scene in Viña del Mar, a coastal city best known as a tourist destination, in the aftermath of the quake.
“Complete and utter choas on the streets…no power…my heart is beatin outta my chest!....tsunami warnin…I am only a mile inland!” he tweeted
Later, Yamin said he and others from his hotel found refuge in the streets, huddling together with blankets from their rooms.
“I’m totally calm now” he messaged.
That calm, however, was short-lived as fears about possible tsunamis began to spread.
“Attn cnn/world: we r worried from ur reports of a tsunami, yet no warning sirens have sounded yet!...the army here is advising us 2 stay put,” Yamin tweeted about 4:30 a.m.
Scott Yamin, the singer’s brother, has been keeping in touch with Elliott via text message, although the battery in the singer’s cell phone is getting low. Scott Yamin said he was relaying information from CNN about the quake to his brother, as well as fielding media inquiries about him.Elliot Yamin is in Chile for the Competencia Internacional, the country’s largest music festival. He represented the United States in the competition, singing “Rock Around the Clock.”