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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Magnitude-6.7 quake hits Chile

Published 17/03/2014 | 00:27

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A strong earthquake off Chile sparked a tsunami warning

A strong earthquake has shaken Chile's northern Pacific coast, prompting authorities to evacuate more than 100,000 people as a precaution.

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Only minor damage was reported but Chile's navy said there had been a possibility of a minor tsunami between the northern towns of Arica and Tocopilla, so authorities urged people to evacuate a stretch of coast where the Arica and Parinacota region adjoins Tarapaca.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there did not appear to be a threat of a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami.

The US Geological Survey originally reported the quake at a 7.0 magnitude but later downgraded it to 6.7.

The tremor struck offshore about 4.16pm local time at a depth of 12 miles. Its epicentre was 37 miles north west of Iquique.

The USGS said that was followed by a 5.1 tremor and three 4.9 quakes in the same area.

Franz Schmauck, Arica and Parinacota regional director of Chile's ONEMI emergency services office, told state TV that no damage was registered except for broken windows on some homes.

ONEMI's national director, Ricardo Toro, told reporters later that about 80,000 people were evacuated in the Tarapaca region, 3,000 in Arica and Parinacota and 22,000 in Antofagasta. He said the sea had risen only about 13 inches.

"We had a fright but we're constantly monitoring," Arica and Parinacota governor Emilio Rodríguez said.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and the tsunami it unleashed in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded happened in Chile, a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.

Hours later a 6.2-magnitude quake shook the same coastline.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre had no tsunami warning in effect.

The US Geological Survey said the latest quake hit late on Sunday night at a depth of 6.6 miles. Its epicentre was 46 miles north west of Iquique.

The region had a series of strong shocks after the earlier quake, registering between 4.9 and 5.2 magnitude.

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