A powerful 7.0 magnitude quake has struck the coasts of northern Chile, causing damage and prompting some people to evacuate as a precaution, officials say. An aftershock, of magnitude 6.3, was followed within half an hour.
The first earthquake occurred at 12:09 am on Tuesday and was centered about 55 kilometers north of Huasco, a town in Atacama, or 113 kilometers southwest of Copiapó. It was followed by an aftershock at 12:30 a.m.
Chile’s seismological agency said the initial earthquake was magnitude 7.0 and occurred about 31 kilometers below the sea floor, making it a shallow earthquake. The replica was M 6.1. The US Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitudes at 6.8 and 6.3, respectively.
The first earthquake was felt throughout the central and northern region of Chile, and in some parts of Argentina near the border.
Some damage and small landslides caused by the earthquakes were reported. Some people who lived near the coast were evacuated as a precaution.
“Based on all available data, there is no tsunami threat from this earthquake,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin to member states. “No action is required”.
Chile is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines that surround the Pacific Basin and is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. A 9.5 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of central Chile in May 1960, killing thousands of people. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded.