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Santiago (AFP) April 02, 2014
A powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit near Chile's Pacific coast on Tuesday, sparking tsunami warnings for Chile, Peru and Ecuador, officials said.
The quake struck at 8:46 pm local time (2346 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles), 83 kilometers from Iquique on Chile's northern coast, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning.
Chilean authorities -- who registered the quake at 7.9 -- and their Ecuadoran and Peruvian counterparts also issued a tsunami alert after the quake.
"Everyone along our coast should be alert and ready," Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said on Twitter.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also issued a "watch" for Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, and a large earthquake has long been expected in the north of the country.
In its evaluation, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement: "It is not known that a tsunami was generated.
"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours."
In February 2010, central and southern Chile were hit by a powerful earthquake of 8.8-magnitude followed by a tsunami that devastated dozens of towns.
The quake left more than 500 dead and $30 billion in damage to infrastructure.
The same coastal area has been the scene of numerous quakes in recent days.
On Sunday, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck, followed by at least two moderate aftershocks, USGS said.
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