Quake shakes Chile, conjures flashbacks of 2010 disaster
Mar 26, 2012, 4:27 GMT
Santiago - A magnitude-7.1 earthquake shook central Chile, two years after the region was devastated by another tremor and tsunami, the US Geological Survey in Washington said.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or major damage although Sunday's quake disrupted the area's telephone service. Vice President Rodrigo Hinzpeter said some minor injuries were reported.
Thousands of people left coastal areas for higher ground for fear of a tsunami and chose to remain there after authorities lifted a tsunami warning after the February 2010 disaster killed more than 300 people and destroyed thousands of homes.
'I want to call upon citizens to be calm,' Hinzpeter said. 'It was a major quake, but it's over.'
The power supply was cut off in a large area while some towns experienced an interruption in their water supplies. Roofs were also damaged.
'We had a complete collapse of telephone lines and text messages,' said Carlos Gonzalez, mayor of Lebu, 400 kilometres south-west of Santiago.
Three worshippers at a Mass in Maipu, just west of Santiago, received minor injuries from pieces of plaster that fell from the roof of a church, Radio Cooperativa reported.
The US agency initially put the magnitude of the tremor at 7.2 while Chilean authorities measured it at 6.8. Both were lower than the 8.8 magnitude of the quake in 2010.
Sunday's quake was centred 30 kilometres below ground in the Maule region of Chile, 27 kilometres north-west of Talca and about 220 kilometres south-west of Santiago.
The quake, which struck at 7:37 pm (2237 GMT) was also felt in Santiago. Thousands of football fans left the stands of Monumental Stadium in a rush during the Colo Colo-Palestino match of the Chilean championship. On the pitch, however, players reportedly did not feel the quake, and the match went on undisturbed.
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