Chile earthquake measures strong 6.8

Chile earthquake: A strong 6.8 earthquake was measured in Chile, Friday, but after the 8.8 of last year and strong building codes the country was prepared.

Carlos Espinoza/AP
Chile earthquake: Chile's President Sebastian Pinera leaves the National Emergency Office headquarters after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit southern Chile in Santiago, Chile, Friday.

A strong 6.8 magnitude earthquake rattled central Chile on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, striking close to a zone hit by a devastating quake a year ago and shaking the capital Santiago, but there were no reports of damage.

Chile's state copper mining giant Codelco [CODEL.UL] said the quake caused no damage at its El Teniente deposit in central Chile or any of the world No.1 copper producer's deposits further north and that operations were normal.

A worker at state energy company ENAP's Bio Bio oil refinery, which was badly damaged by last February's major 8.8-magnitude quake, said operations were running normally.

"There is no risk of a tsunami," President Sebastian Pinera said during a visit to the southern port city of Constitucion, which was badly damaged by last year's quake and was shaken again on Friday.

"There was a preventive self-evacuation in some coastal areas ... and that is good," he added. "There have been no reports of significant damage or of fatalities."

State emergency office Onemi said there were no reports of any damage or injuries anywhere.

It said the tremor was considered an aftershock from last year's massive quake, one of the largest ever recorded, which triggered tsunamis, killed more than 500 people and ravaged infrastructure.

Residents fled into the street in parts of south-central Chile. Telephone lines in some areas went down, and there were brief electrical outages, the government said.

A Reuters witness in the coastal town of Navidad, southwest of Santiago, said residents screamed and whistled to alert swimmers, and that vacationing families cleared the beach as a precaution. He said the sea was calm.

The offshore quake was 30 miles (45 km) north of Concepcion and 17.4 miles (18.4 km) deep, said the USGS, which originally reported the quake at magnitude 7.0. It was 245 miles (395 km) south-southwest of Santiago, it said.

Reconstruction of infrastructure and homes damaged by last year's quake, as well as a recovery among damaged industries, are seen driving an economic expansion forecast at around 6 percent this year.

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