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Powerful 6.9-Mag Quake Rocks Chile, Bolivia

A strong earthquake rocked northern Chile and parts of Bolivia on Thursday, sending residents fleeing out of buildings and temporarily knocking out telephones and electricity. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

The quake struck at 4:26 p.m. in the Andes mountains along the border between the two countries. The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., measured the quake at magnitude 6.9 and said the epicenter was located in Potosi, Bolivia.

The tremor rattled the Chilean port city of Tocopilla, 960 miles north of Santiago.

"Panic was widespread here, and we are still checking but we have no reports of victims or damage," said Tocopilla Gov. Jorge Peralta. "People took to the streets, and many parents rushed to schools to pick up their children. I saw some automobiles traveling at clearly dangerous high speeds."

He said power and phone lines were cut but were gradually being restored.

Hernan Vargas, a regional director of Chile's Emergency Bureau, said the quake posed no threat of a tsunami, because its epicenter was far inland.

The tremor was felt along a 440-mile stretch of Chile's narrow territory, between Copiapo and Tocopilla, Vargas said.

Earthquakes are frequent in northern Chile. A powerful quake in June killed 12 people and destroyed hundreds of houses in small Andean villages.