People are seen on a beach as the national emergency office, ONEMI, through a message on Chileans' cell phones, urges people to abandon coastal areas after a quake at the Chilean Antarctic territory.(REUTERS)
People are seen on a beach as the national emergency office, ONEMI, through a message on Chileans' cell phones, urges people to abandon coastal areas after a quake at the Chilean Antarctic territory.(REUTERS)

Quakes of 6.9, 5.8 magnitude hit South Shetland Islands, Chile; no major damage

Some people in Chile received the evacuation message on their cellphones by mistake, which authorities attributed to a technical error. The mistake led to confusion and local media showed hundreds of people starting to evacuate.
AP, Santiago
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 03:14 PM IST

Two almost simultaneous earthquakes were felt Saturday in the South Shetland Islands in the Antarctica and in central Chile, where buildings shook in the country’s capital. No casualties or damage were immediately reported.

The quake in the South Shetland Islands had a magnitude of 6.9 with a depth of 9.6 kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, while the earthquake in Chile had a magnitude of 5.8.

Chile’s Interior Ministry said on Twitter the South Shetland Islands quake was 216 kilometers northeast of the country's O’Higgins scientific base, and called for coastal regions in the Antarctica to be evacuated because of a tsunami risk.

Almost simultaneously a 5.8 magnitude quake swayed buildings in central Chile, including in the capital of Santiago. The quake had a depth of 110 kilometers.

“As of this moment, there are no reports of damages to people or infrastructure or of alterations to basic services because of this earthquake," said Chile's national emergency center Onemi.

Some people in Chile received the evacuation message on their cellphones by mistake, which authorities attributed to a technical error. The mistake led to confusion and local media showed hundreds of people starting to evacuate in the coastal region of La Serena in the country's north. They were later told it was a false alarm.

More than 160 people evacuated the four Chilean bases in Antarctica, Onemi reported.

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