Magnitude 7.7 quake hits northern Chile - USGS

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SANTIAGO, Nov 14 (Reuters) A powerful 7.7 quake hit mineral-rich northern Chile today, the US Geological Survey reported, but there was no immediate word on any damage or casualties.

The National Emergency Office (ONEMI) in Chile said it had no information on any casualties but it was evaluating the impact of the quake.

''We are evaluating the impact that the quake might have caused,'' a spokesman for ONEMI told national television.

The USGS said the quake, 36.7 miles (60 km) deep, was centered 66 miles (106 km) west of the town of Calama and struck at 2110 IST.

The quake was initially reported at 7.8 magnitude by the US agency and later verified at 7.7.

The quake hit an area where there are many large copper mines.

State copper miner Codelco had no immediate comment on possible damages.

Chilean authorities discounted the chances of a tsunami along its Pacific coast after the quake.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for Hawaii, west of Chile across the Pacific, but said the quake would cause only small non-destructive sea level changes and strong unusual currents for a few hours.

''Based on all available data there is no destructive tsunami threat to Hawaii,'' the center said in its advisory.

REUTERS PY BD2233

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