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Quake in Chile results in no tsunami, scant damage

A 7.1-magnitude quake in central Chile poses no tsunami threat to Hawaii, federal scientists have advised state Civil Defense.

The quake struck at 10:20 this morning, Hawaii time, about 336 miles south-southwest of Santiago, Chile, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Based on all available data, a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii,” said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach.


In Chile, there were no reports of deaths or damage, and Vicente Nunez, head of the National Emergency Office, said no tsunami alert was issued.

“There has been no harm to people, no harm to property,” said Nunez, quoted by the Associated Press. “We will continue monitoring.”

President Sebastian Pinera urged calm in an address to the nation.

“There was an exercise of self-evacuation, which is exactly what we have asked people to do,” Pinera said. “Fortunately we do not have to lament accidents or losses of life.”

Some cell-phone communications and electrical power were knocked out in the Araucania region, where the quake was centered.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter was about 45 miles  away from the provincial capital of Temuco, which has a population of about 250,000.

The quake struck at a depth of about 11 miles, according to the USGS, and there was at least one aftershock of 5.0 magnitude.

When the first temblor struck, people in several coastal cities quickly moved away from the ocean, abandoning some shopping centers entirely.

In the communities of La Araucania, Puerto Saavedra, Tolten and Teodoro Smith, an estimated 50,000 people voluntarily evacuated to higher ground, according to Nunez.

Hundreds of tourists spending the New Year’s holiday at the resorts of Villarica and Pucon cut their trips short and headed north, clogging roads and toll stations.

Residents of the region have fresh memories of the magnitude-8.8 quake and resulting tsunami on Feb. 27, 2010, that killed at least 521 people and left 200,000 homeless.


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