Strong 7.1 magnitude quake hits Chile, no injuries

A strong 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit central Chile on Sunday, driving panicked residents from their homes due to fears of a tsunami but causing no injuries or damage, officials said.

Last February, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake caused tsunami waves that devastated coastal towns in the same area of the South American country, killing more than 500 people and damaging infrastructure across much of south-central Chile.

Sunday's quake struck the town of Tirua almost 70 km (44 miles) northwest of Temuco at 5:21 p.m. local time (2021 GMT), the director of the country's Onemi emergency office said.

"Up until now we don't have any reports of injuries, there's no damage, just overloaded telephone lines and some partial power cuts. We're continuing to monitor the situation," Onemi chief Vicente Nunez said.

Map locates where a 7.… Read more »1 magnitude earthquake has struck near Temuco, Chile
Map locates where a 7.… Read more »1 magnitude earthquake has struck near Temuco, Chile

He said the possibility of a tsunami along the Pacific coastline had been ruled out and urged coastal residents who rushed to higher ground to return to their homes.

"We've told people to go back to their houses because there's no tsunami alert," he said, noting that the larger quake had been followed by a 5.0 magnitude aftershock.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake as 7.1 magnitude, slightly stronger than the 6.9 magnitude recorded by the seismology service at the University of Chile.

Chile, the world's top copper producer, has seen its economy surge on heavy spending to rebuild cities ravaged by last February's quake and record prices for its main export.

Operations were normal at the Andean division of Chilean copper miner Codelco after the latest tremor, a spokeswoman said.

State energy company ENAP said operations were also running as usual at the nation's top Bio oil refinery, which was badly damaged by last year's major quake.

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