Saturday, February 12, 2011

Two earthquakes have struck the central coastal area of Chile, rattling the same region hit by last year's magnitude 8.8 quake.

A magnitude 6.8 quake, followed by another with a magnitude of 6.3, occurred off the Pacific coast of Chile on Friday. 

The US Geological Survey and Chile's national emergency office said the first quake struck Friday in the Pacific, 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the city of Concepcion. 

The epicenter was relatively close to the coast, at 36 degrees south latitude and 73 degrees west longitude -- almost exactly the same location where the devastating February 27, 2010 earthquake was centered, but half as deep, at 18 kilometers (11 miles).

There were no immediate reports of major damage or injury, but the quake was felt in a wide area of central Chile.

Thousands of people, especially along the coast, fled to higher ground following the earthquake.

“The navy has totally discounted any risk of a tsunami,” AP quoted Interior Ministry official Rodrigo Ubillo as saying on Friday.

President Sebastian Pinera appealed for calm and praised his government and Chileans in general for responding quickly.

"Today we're better prepared," Pinera said. "I think we've learned the lesson of February 27, 2010."

Last year's disaster led to at least 521 deaths and 30 billion dollars in damage and prompted an inquiry over the failure to deliver a timely tsunami warning. source

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