An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale shook Chile Saturday night, but oceanographers are playing down the threat of a tsunami.
A 6.8 earthquake shook central-northern Chile Saturday, and was felt in several cities, including the capital Santiago, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported. Authorities reported that as many as 200,000 are without power and two people died of heart attacks.
The event occurred at 10:32 p.m. local time about 15.6 km (9.7 miles) south-southwest of Coquimbo, the USGS said. The quake was 53 km (33 miles) below the surface, a relatively shallow tremor that shook homes and had some worried about a possible tsunami.
The tremor ‘quake left the northern city of La Serena without any electrical power, Reuters reported.
The Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Navy (SHOA) said that the earthquake did not meet the necessary conditions to generate a tsunami, while the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, similarly, quickly discarded a tsunami threat following the tremor.
A Reuters witness reported minor damage to older buildings and power outages in the nearby coastal city of La Serena, a popular beach town about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Santiago.
“It felt very strong…the tourists were very nervous, but nothing serious happened,” Camila Castillo, a receptionist at a hotel in La Serena, told Reuters.
An elderly man and woman died of cardiac arrest thought to be associated with the earthquake, according to police and local media reports.
Chilean miner Antofagasta Plc said operations were normal at its Los Pelambres copper mine following the nearby earthquake.
Chile, located on the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” has a long history of deadly quakes, including an 8.8 magnitude quake in 2010 off the south-central coast, which also triggered a tsunami that devastated coastal towns.
But death and destruction are limited by strict construction codes especially designed to withstand earthquakes.