Published April 17, 2012
SANTIAGO, Chile – A strong magnitude-6.5 earthquake shook central Chile late Monday, prompting authorities to order a preventative evacuation of a stretch of coastline.
There were no immediate reports of damage or deaths, but the quake was felt almost a minute in Valparaiso and the capital, Santiago, where hundreds of people fled buildings and homes in panic.
The Chilean navy's hydrographic and oceanographic service discounted the possibility of a tsunami, despite the order to move to higher ground affecting a stretch of coastline going from roughly 225 miles (360 kms) south of Santiago to 260 miles (420 kms) north of Chile's capital.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake's epicenter was 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Valparaiso, Chile, and it had a depth of 15.5 miles (25 kilometers). It struck minutes before midnight local time Monday (3:50 Tuesday GMT).
The quake knocked out power and telephone service in various parts of Santiago, but the National Emergency Office of the Interior Ministry said that it had received no reports of major damage or injuries.
Chile is highly earthquake-prone. A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck central Chile on March 25, the strongest and longest that many people said they had felt since a huge quake devastated that region two years ago. In 2010, the 8.8-magnitude quake caused a tsunami that obliterated much of the coastal downtown of the central Chilean city of Constitucion.