Strong 6.4-magnitude quake jolts central Chile, no tsunami risk

Residents stay on the top floor of their building during a vertical evacuation after an earthquake hit Chile's central zone in Vina del Mar city, northwest of Santiago, on Aug 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Residents stay on the top floor of their building during a vertical evacuation after an earthquake hit Chile's central zone in Vina del Mar city, northwest of Santiago, on Aug 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SANTIAGO (AFP) - A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake jolted central Chile on Saturday, officials said, though there were no immediate reports of fatalities or serious damage.

The quake struck at 6.32 pm (2232 GMT) about 108 kilometres north-west of the capital Santiago, at a depth of 35 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

The national emergency office ONEMI said the temblor shook Santiago and five other regions in the South American nation. More than five million people live in the capital, and the quake shook buildings for 30-40 seconds, causing panic even in a country used to temblors.

"There have been some power outages but no reports of damage to buildings or infrastructure... though this is still preliminary information," ONEMI chief Miguel Ortiz said.

The earthquake did not create a tsunami risk, according to the water and oceans service.

Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, and is located in the so-called Ring of Fire area of the Pacific Ocean basin.

An 8.2-magnitude quake in northern Chile in April killed six people and forced a million to leave their homes in the region around Iquique. And a February 27, 2010 quake that struck just off the coast of Chile's Maule region measured 8.8 in magnitude, making it one of the largest ever recorded. It killed more than 500 people.