Powerful quake strikes off coast of Chile

A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile early Tuesday but there was no tsunami warning and the quake caused relatively minor structural damage, authorities said.

The US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.8, a scale later revised upwards to 7.0 by Chile’s National Seismological Center (CSN).

Despite the tremor’s strength, relatively little damage was reported by Chile’s National Emergency Office (ONEMI).

Electricity outages were reported in some areas and road links were cut following a landslide.

Emergency services reported “masonry damage to homes” in areas of the northern city of Copiapo, but no injuries were reported.

The epicenter was 55 kilometers (34 miles) from the town of Huasco, in the largely desertified Atacama region, about 700 kilometers north of the capital Santiago.

The quake struck at 0400 GMT and authorities reported about 50 aftershocks in the region, some measured at 5.4 magnitude.

Chile is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake in Chile was, at 9.5, the strongest ever recorded on the magnitude scale, according to the USGS.

Chile lies on the Ring of Fire — an arc of fault lines that circles the Pacific Basin and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. (AFP)

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