No deaths, few injuries in latest Chile quake

Last Updated: Monday, March 26, 2012 - 22:06

Santiago: A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck
central Chile, prompting an short-lived evacuation order for
coastal areas and causing scenes of panic in a region
devastated by a massive quake two years ago.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or significant
damage, officials in Chile said today, a day after the temblor
struck.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said there
was no risk of an ocean tidal wave like one that devastated
the coast of central Chile in 2010.

Officials said that some 25,000 people had been evacuated
by the time the all-clear was given a few hours later.
Fourteen people were reported injured in the quake.

Government spokesman Andres Chadwick said the Office of
National Emergencies had issued the evacuation order as a
precaution due to "observation of a certain intake of the
sea."

Chadwick said the decision was taken to protect the
population even though the visual sighting of the sea
conditions had not been confirmed by technical experts from
the navy`s Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service.

In its first quake damage report, the emergency office
said one person was injured in a car accident in the Bio Bio
region.

More injuries were reported from falling debris in the
interior of a Catholic church in Santiago.

"We were at mass when material started falling," a priest
told the local media. "The people became frightened and fled."

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at 2237
GMT some 32 kilometers northwest of Talca in Chile`s Maule
region, the same area ravaged by a massive 8.8 earthquake in
late February 2010.

Hundreds of people ran into the streets in Talca in panic
during the quake, which was felt for nearly a minute.

Chilean news media reported electrical blackouts and
broken phone lines in the area around Talca, 300 kilometers
south of the capital, Santiago.

Tall buildings shook in Santiago, and fear gripped people
in shopping centers, supermarkets and the city`s stadium where
a football game was under way.

The USGS initially reported the quake`s magnitude as 7.2
but later downgraded it to 7.1.

PTI



First Published: Monday, March 26, 2012 - 08:59

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