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Quake jolts northern Chile

Santiago - A strong quake struck off northern Chile on Sunday evening, triggering a brief evacuation of part of the coastal area but not causing any injuries or significant damage.

The magnitude 6.7 quake, originally measured as a 7.0, was centred 60km west-northwest of Iquique and hit at a depth of 20km, the US Geological Survey said.

People gather on higher ground at a tsunami safety zone in Iquique City, north of Santiago, Chile, on March 16, 2014. A strong earthquake struck off northern Chile on Sunday evening. Picture: Cristian Vivero. Credit: Reuters

The ONEMI emergency office said there was no major damage stemming from the shake, which struck at 6.16pm local time (21h16 GMT), save for two small roadside rock falls in the Arica and Parinacota region.

Chile's massive copper mines, clustered in the mineral-rich North, appeared to be fine. Collahuasi, a partnership between Glencore Xstrata and Anglo American, located in the area, said operations were normal.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said following the quake that there was no tsunami expected.

But Chile's navy said there was a possibility of what it called “a minor tsunami”, so authorities ordered a preventive evacuation of part of the coastline after the quake.

Sea level rises did not top a negligible 32cm in the area, the ONEMI said.

Local media showed footage of people in Iquique calmly evacuating on foot to nearby hills. Some had been enjoying the sunny Sunday on the beach during the tail end of the Southern Hemisphere's summer.

The evacuation order, which affected over 100 000 people, was called off roughly three hours after the quake happened. - Reuters

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