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No deaths, few injuries in latest Chile quake
by Staff Writers
Santiago (AFP) March 26, 2012

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Chile, prompting an short-lived evacuation order for coastal areas and causing scenes of panic in a region devastated by a massive quake two years ago.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or significant damage, officials in Chile said Monday, a day after the temblor struck.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said there was no risk of an ocean tidal wave like one that devastated the coast of central Chile in 2010.

Officials said that some 25,000 people had been evacuated by the time the all-clear was given a few hours later. Fourteen people were reported injured in the quake.

Government spokesman Andres Chadwick said the Office of National Emergencies had issued the evacuation order as a precaution due to "observation of a certain intake of the sea."

Chadwick said the decision was taken to protect the population even though the visual sighting of the sea conditions had not been confirmed by technical experts from the navy's Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service.

In its first quake damage report, the emergency office said one person was injured in a car accident in the Bio Bio region.

More injuries were reported from falling debris in the interior of a Catholic church in Santiago.

"We were at mass when material started falling," a priest told the local media. "The people became frightened and fled."

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at 2237 GMT some 32 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of Talca in Chile's Maule region, the same area ravaged by a massive 8.8 earthquake in late February 2010.

Hundreds of people ran into the streets in Talca in panic during the quake, which was felt for nearly a minute.

Chilean news media reported electrical blackouts and broken phone lines in the area around Talca, 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of the capital, Santiago.

Tall buildings shook in Santiago, and fear gripped people in shopping centers, supermarkets and the city's stadium where a football game was under way.

The USGS initially reported the quake's magnitude as 7.2 but later downgraded it to 7.1.

According to the USGS, which monitors earthquakes worldwide, the epicenter of Sunday's earthquake was 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) below the ground surface.

The Maule coastal region has been periodically shaken by powerful aftershocks since the February 27, 2010 quake, which claimed more than 500 lives and billions of dollars in damage.

Most of the deaths in that quake occurred from tsunamis that slammed into coastal towns and villages.

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Australia hit by biggest quake in 15 years
Sydney (AFP) March 24, 2012
Australia has been hit by its biggest earthquake in 15 years, seismologists said Saturday, rattling a remote part of the desert with local Aboriginals reporting strong shaking but no major damage. The 6.1-magnitude earthquake had its epicentre near Ernabella, in the middle of Australia, at a shallow depth of three kilometres (1.8 miles), Geoscience Australia said. Ernabella is an indigen ... read more

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