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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Earthquake hits Chile’s Pacific coast

Precautionary evacuation ordered after earthquake hits Chile’s Pacific coast

SANTIAGO, Chile – A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake shook Chile’s northern Pacific shore Sunday, leading authorities to call for a precautionary evacuation in some coastal areas, but only minor damage was reported.
Chile’s navy said there had been a possibility of a minor tsunami between the northern towns of Arica and Tocopilla, leading authorities to urge evacuation along a stretch of coast where the Arica and Parinacota region adjoins the Tarapaca region. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there did not appear to be a threat of a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami.
The U.S. Geological Survey originally reported the quake at a 7.0 magnitude but later downgraded it. It struck about 4:16 p.m. at a depth of 20 kilometres (12 1/2 miles). Its epicenter was 60 kilometres (37 miles) northwest of Iquique, Chile.
The USGS said a second tremor hit about 10 minutes later some 15 miles away registering 5.1. A third large shake registering 4.9 hit in the same area some 40 minutes later.
Franz Schmauck, director of Chile’s ONEMI emergency services office, told state TV that no damage was registered except for broken windows on some homes.
“We had a fright but we’re constantly monitoring,” said Arica and Parinacota regional governor Emilio Rodriguez. “We could have a sudden change in waves that would make them rise up to 1 metre (3.28 feet) high.”
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 also happened in Chile, a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.
Associated Press writer Luis Andres Henao contributed to this report.
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