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Strong quake rocks central Chile

Mon., Jan. 3, 2011

SANTIAGO, Chile – A strong earthquake rattled central Chile on Sunday, panicking residents but apparently causing no serious injuries or damage, authorities said.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured Sunday’s quake at 7.1, two-tenths of a point higher than the University of Chile’s calculation.

The epicenter was near the coastal community of Tirua in the Araucania region. The site is about 385 miles southwest of the capital, Santiago.

Hundreds of people reportedly fled in their cars for higher ground, fearing a tsunami like the one that followed an earthquake last Feb. 27 that ravaged Concepcion to the north. But aside from power and cell phone outages, no major problems were reported Sunday.

Last year’s magnitude 8.8 earthquake killed 486 people, left 79 missing and caused billions of dollars in damage, according to official tallies. The president’s office said 220,000 homes were lost.

President Sebastian Pinera pledged to provide housing for families that lost homes. He diverted billions of dollars, including money from a special stabilization account funded by copper profits, for reconstruction and resettlement efforts.

Vicente Nunez, director of Chile’s National Emergency Office, said there was no danger of a tsunami like the one that caused extensive damage in Chilean coastal communities after last year’s quake, an assessment shared by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.


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