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Strong 6.2 quake strikes Chile

world Updated: Jul 12, 2010 09:00 IST

AFP
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A strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake rattled northeastern Chile late Sunday in the region of Antofagasta, home to one of the driest places on Earth, US seismologists said.

The quake had a depth of 56.7 miles (91.3 kilometers) and was centered about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east-northeast of Calama, the US Geological Survey said. It hit at 8:11 pm (0011 GMT Sunday).

No injuries or damas were reported in Calama, located in the middle of the Atacama desert -- considered one of the driest in the world -- and in San Pedro de Atacama, one of the country's most popular tourist centers, local police sources told AFP.

"I was walking and noticed how the ground shook, but there was no alarm or panic, everything normal," said tour guide Patricio Silva, who lives in San Pedro de Atacama.

Chile's National Emergency Office said phone lines were saturated after the quake, which was considered of "medium strength." It said the situation has "normalized."

"What we are talking about would be very close to Argentine territory, which by definition rules out the possibility of a tsunami," the shift manager at the regional emergency office Onemi, Miguel Ortiz, told Radio Cooperativa.

A massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck Chile on February 27, sparking a huge tsunami that killed 521 people and swept away entire villages. The disaster caused an estimated 30 billion dollars in damage.

Chile's economy had been on an upward trend since its recovery from the global downturn at the end of 2009. The quake, though, interrupted that trajectory.