Quake hits central Chile, no serious damage

  • World
  • Friday, 29 Jun 2007

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 hit central Chile on Thursday, rocking buildings in the capital Santiago but causing no serious damage to major cities or the country's copper industry. 

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, which struck at 3:25 p.m., had its epicenter 150 km north of the port city of Valparaiso and 198 km north of Santiago. 

An official from the government's natural disaster center ONEMI said there were no immediate reports of material damage. Local media reported some phone lines were down. 

"For the moment, there are no reports of injuries or victims and there's no damage in the central zone, which is the area where the quake was most strongly felt," ONEMI official Juan Piedra told Reuters. 

Radio reports said the medium-sized quake prompted some people to leave buildings and run into the streets. 

There was no apparent impact on Chile's vast copper mines, which provide one-third of the world's copper supply. 

A spokesman at Anglo American Chile, which has significant mining interests in the affected zone, said the company had received no reports of damage. 

At Codelco's El Teniente, the world's largest underground copper mine, the quake was "barely felt," a spokesman said. 

A source at the Los Pelambres copper mine, the nearest large mine to the epicenter, said the quake was "pretty strong" but there were no immediate signs of damage. 

Chile, which lies on the fault between the Nazca and Continental American tectonic plates, is prone to quakes. 

In 1960, it was hit by one of the strongest quakes recorded -- a temblor measuring 9.6 on the Richter scale that killed 24,000 people and caused widespread damage in the south. 

The strongest quake in recent years hit the extreme north of the country in 2004 and had a magnitude of 7.9. 

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