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Magnitude 6.8 earthquake strikes off the coast of Chile

The quake occurred at 12:09 a.m. local time at a depth of 35 kilometres (22 miles). It was centred 78 kilometers (48 miles) northeast of the Atacama city of Vallenar

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 struck off the coast of northern Chile in the first minutes of Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage and the Chilean navy said there was no possibility of a tsunami.

The quake occurred at 12:09 a.m. local time at a depth of 35 kilometres (22 miles). It was centred 78 kilometers (48 miles) northeast of the Atacama city of Vallenar. A few minutes later, a second quake occurred with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3.

The quake was felt as far south as the capital, Santiago, and in Antofagasta, 1,330 kilometers (826 miles) further north.

Video from the scene showed windows rattling and items falling to the ground. Local radio stations reported that boulders broke off hills. The electricity was briefly cut off.

Chile is located in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire and often experiences large earthquakes. The last major quake, on February 27, 2010, set off tsunamis and killed 526 people.

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