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No tsunami threat to Hawaii after large quake off Chile

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 11:12 p.m. HST, Mar 16, 2014

There is no tsunami threat to Hawaii after a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Northern Chile Sunday morning, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The earthquake shook Chile's northern Pacific shore, leading authorities to call for a precautionary evacuation in some coastal areas, but only minor damage was reported.

Chile's navy said there had been a possibility of a minor tsunami between the northern towns of Arica and Tocopilla, leading authorities to urge evacuation along a stretch of coast where the Arica and Parinacota region adjoins the Tarapaca region. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there did not appear to be a threat of a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami.

The U.S. Geological Survey originally reported the quake at a 7.0 magnitude but later downgraded it. It struck about 4:16 p.m. (11:16 a.m. in Hawaii) at a depth of more than 12 miles. Its epicenter was 37 miles northwest of Iquique, Chile.

The USGS said a second tremor hit about 10 minutes later about 15 miles away registering magnitude 5.1. A third large shake registering magnitude 4.9 hit in the same area 40 minutes later.

Franz Schmauck, director of Chile's emergency services office, told state TV that no damage was registered except for broken windows on some homes.

"We had a fright but we're constantly monitoring," said Emilio Rodriguez, regional governor of Arica and Parinacota. "We could have a sudden change in waves that would make them rise up to 1 meter (3.28 feet) high."

Another quake, magnitude 6.2, struck in the same area at 6:11 p.m. Sunday.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and the tsunami it unleashed in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, river-fronts and seaside resorts.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded also happened in Chile, a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.

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