Quake hits central Chile; no reports of deaths
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - March 25, 2012 (WPVI) -- A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck central Chile Sunday night, the strongest and longest that many people said they had felt since a huge quake devastated the area two years ago. There were no immediate reports of deaths or major damage.
The quake struck at 7:30 p.m. about 16 miles (27 kilometers) north-northwest of Talca, a city of more than 200,000 people where residents said the shaking lasted about a minute.
Buildings swayed in Chile's capital 136 miles (219 kilometers) to the north, and people living along a 480-mile (770-kilometer) stretch of Chile's central coast were briefly warned to head for higher ground.
Residents were particularly alarmed in Constitucion, where much of the coastal downtown at the mouth of a river was obliterated by the tsunami caused by the 8.8-magnitude quake in 2010.
Panic also struck in Santiago and other cities, with people running out of skyscrapers, and many neighborhoods were left partly or totally without electrical power. Phone service was disrupted by heavy use.
"There are some injuries but nothing serious," said Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, who was serving as acting president while Sebastian Pinera is on tour in Asia.
Hinzpeter said authorities were conducting a thorough survey of the affected regions to look for damage.
The Chilean navy's hydrographic and oceanographic service and the national emergency office called off the tsunami warning shortly after an analysis showed the quake wasn't the type to provoke a tsunami.
But hundreds of coastal residents were staying away from the shore, remembering how the government said there would be no tsunami just before huge waves struck after the 2010 quake, killing 156 of the 524 victims of that disaster. As aftershocks rattled the region, many people living inland didn't want to go back inside their homes, either.
State television reported that parts of the ceiling fell from a church in Maipu, west of Santiago, slightly injuring some parishioners. Similar problems were reported with the roof of a shopping mall in La Florida, south of the capital.
State copper giant Codelco said its mines were functioning normally.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred 19 miles (30 kilometers) deep.
It was the second significant quake in as many days for central Chile, where people were shaken awake Saturday morning by a 5.1-magnitude temblor that caused no major damage or injuries even though its epicenter was in metropolitan Santiago.
chile, earthquake, national/world
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