SANTIAGO Chile issued a tsunami warning and evacuation order for southern coastal areas after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.7 struck 225 km (140 miles) southwest of Puerto Montt in southern Chile on Sunday. The tsunami warning was issued for areas within 1,000 km (621 miles) of the epicenter of the quake, the U.S.-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Tsunami waves reaching around one meter (3 feet) above the tide level are expected along parts of the Chilean coast, according to local emergency services. The first tidal waves were expected to arrive at the shoreline in Chile's Los Lagos region by 1 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi) said. Onemi chief Ricardo Toro called on Los Lagos residents to abandon beaches and go to safe zones. The quake's depth was about 15 km (nine miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Onemi said there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
According to media reports, the quake was felt in the southwest Argentine city of Bariloche. Chile is the world's leading copper producer, but there are no major mines located near the zone affected by the earthquake. Chile has a long history of deadly quakes, including a 8.8 magnitude quake in 2010 off the south-central coast, which also triggered a tsunami that devastated coastal towns.
(Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Writing by Mary Milliken and Luc Cohen; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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Updated Date: Dec 25, 2016 21:46:44 IST