Earthquake hits Chile: Tsunami warning issued after powerful 7.7-magnitude quake hits south of country

Officials are evacuating coastal areas in the southern part of the country

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 25 December 2016 15:37
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Powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake hits Chile

A powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake has struck in Chile, leading officials to order an evacuation of coastal areas in anticipation of a potential tsunami.

The quake hit near the southern tip of Chiloe Island, about 25 miles (40 kilometres) southwest of Puerto Montt, at a depth of 20 miles (33 kilometres), the US Geological Survey reported.

Approximately 4,000 people were evacuated from the Los Lagos area but officials have removed the initial tsunami warning.

The regional director for the national emergency service, Alejandro Verges, told TVN television that there were no immediate reports about damage.

Chile's naval oceanographic service declared a preventative tsunami alert and officials began evacuating coastal areas in the southern part of the country.

Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi) said there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. Onemi chief Ricardo Toro called on Los Lagos residents to go to safe zones and abandon beaches.

Alamiro Vera, owner of the Cabanas Hotel in the southern port city of Quellon, said the quake was strong, but did not see any structural damage.

"There was a lot, a lot of movement here, but besides that nothing of note, there weren't houses falling," Vera said. "It was just scary, and some things inside fell."

A much stronger magnitude 8.8 earthquake in February 2010 generated a tsunami and killed 524 people in Chile.

Additional reporting by agencies

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