6.7 magnitude quake hits northern Chile—USGS


05:58 AM January 31st, 2013

January 31st, 2013 05:58 AM

SANTIAGO—A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake jolted northern Chile Wednesday, US monitors said, knocking out electricity and local telecom services but no immediate tsunami warning was issued.

The earthquake occurred at 2015 GMT, at the relatively shallow depth of 47.5 kilometers (29.5 miles) and the epicenter was located 102 kilometers (63 miles) from the mining town of Copiapo, the US Geological Service said.

That is about 800 km (500 miles), north of the capital Santiago. Chilean authorities did not immediately report any fatalities.

The quake, which lasted longer than a minute, downed phone service and power in cities in the region, local officials said.

Panicked people ran out into the streets of the town of Atacama, fearing a tsunami, as homes were damaged in the city of Vallenar. In Copiapo, the quake knocked out windows.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said in a preliminary report that, based on historical data, no destructive widespread tsunami threat existed, but noted that an earthquake of such magnitude could cause localized damage.

Meanwhile, Chile’s National Tsunami Alert System said the conditions were not favorable for a tsunami event.

In February 2010, a massive earthquake hit Chile’s central Maule region, south of Valparaiso, generating tsunami waves, killing more than 500 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.

Since then, further quakes have caused concern about what could be to come.

The town of Copiapo garnered global attention two years ago when 33 workers were trapped deep inside a nearby mine for more than two months before being rescued.

It took emergency services 17 days to drill a small shaft to establish contact, and more than two months of painstaking effort before they opened a passage way wide enough to pull them out, one by one.

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