[artist id="2374415"]Elliott Yamin[/artist] was in his hotel room in Chile on Saturday when a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit the South American country just after 3 a.m. local time. The season-five "American Idol" alum rushed to his Twitter account to update fans, writing, "Huge earthquake just now in Chile!! ... I swear I thought this was the end of my life!!!!!"
Yamin then spent the rest of the weekend providing updates, with the most recent coming early Monday morning (March 1). "2day is the 1st indication in Santiago that biz is back 2 normal ... humans and cars r back on the street, biz's r open!" wrote the singer, who said he wouldn't be able to get a flight out of the country until Wednesday.
Yamin kept his fans in the loop all weekend, as the death toll from the quake rose past 700 and the extent of the structural damage became clear. "Man, the situation is grim here!" he wrote Sunday afternoon. "We truly are in a disaster zone! Just like we always see on the news in the states. No flights available anywhere." Early Sunday morning, Yamin reported on the many aftershocks, writing, "Tremmmmmors as I am typing. Early this morn, there was pretty big aftershock!! The entire room was swaying back & forth!"
As he went to sleep on Saturday, Yamin called the Chilean people "resilient, passionate and warm," apologizing for his earlier criticism of the event he participated in on Friday night. Yamin had just finished performing as part of a singing competition in Vina del Mar, Chile, when the quake struck.
Amid the many interviews he did over the weekend, Yamin spoke to Los Angeles' KISS FM on Saturday, telling the station there was "sheer and utter chaos" in the moments after the quake struck.
"I'm lucky I made it out of the building alive," said the singer, who was staying on the sixth floor of the hotel, which was not heavily damaged by the massive temblor. "Just an abrupt shaking came out of nowhere. It lasted about three minutes, and I lived to tell about it, man."
The epicenter of the quake was in Concepcion, about 200 miles south of where Yamin was staying. He was scheduled to call in to Ryan Seacrest's radio show on Monday morning to provide another update on the situation on the ground.
Unlike the massive quake that leveled much of the capital of Haiti six weeks ago and killed more than 200,000, the death toll from Saturday's quake — with 500 times the power of the Haitian one — in Chile is much lower, according to reports, because the country has higher building standards and emergency preparedness due to the frequency of strong earthquakes in the region.
With many cities suffering without water and electricity, though, by Monday CNN reported that widespread looting was beginning in cities hardest hit by the disaster.