Powerful earthquake rocks Chile, no serious damage reported

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SANTIAGO: A powerful earthquake rocked central Chile on late Friday afternoon, seismologists and witnesses said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake at 5.05 p.m. local time (2005 GMT) was centered approximately 45 kilometers (30 miles) north of Concepcion, the capital of Concepcion Province. It struck about 28 kilometers (17.4 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The USGS estimated that approximately 87,000 people may have perceived 'strong' shaking which could potentially result in light to moderate damage. A further 2.6 million people were estimated to have perceived light to moderate shaking.

However, despite panic and coastal evacuations in some areas, there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties. A tsunami warning was not issued either.

Chile is frequently rattled by earthquakes. On May 22, 1960, the 'Great Chilean earthquake' struck the coast of central Chile. The 9.5-magnitude earthquake, the largest earthquake ever instrumentally recorded, left between 490 and 5,700 people killed.

Most recently, on February 27, 2010, an epic 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck approximately 95 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Chillan, offshore of Bio-Bio at a depth of about 35 kilometers (21.7 miles).

The earthquake, which was one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded, devastated the region and: together with a resulting tsunami: left at least 521 people dead. More than 12,000 others were injured.

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