Strong quake strikes off Chile

SANTIAGO (AFP) - A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck off Chile's north-western coast on Sunday, the latest of at least seven quakes to hit the region in recent days.

About 25,000 homes south of the city of Iquique, on Chile's Pacific coast, suffered a 30-minute blackout, the national emergency office said, but there was no significant damage and no tsunami.

The undersea quake hit at 1820GMT (2.20am Singapore time) and had a depth of 35km. Its epicentre was about 87km from Iquique, seismologists at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

USGS initially put the quake at 6.1-magnitude and at a depth of just 6km.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami alert.

That was followed by at least two moderate aftershocks, USGS said.

Quakes are common off Chile's coast.

On March 16, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake jolted the same area, generating a small tsunami and prompting authorities to evacuate three cities.

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.

That quake left more than 500 dead and US$30 billion (S$38 billion) in damage to infrastructure.

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