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Two dead from heart attacks as strong quake jolts Chile

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AFP) — A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit north-central Chile on Saturday, the US Geological Survey said, with police reporting the deaths of two people from heart attacks.

The quake struck at a depth of 53 kilometres (33 miles) with an epicentre some 15 km southwest of Coquimbo, USGS said.

An elderly man and an elderly woman from Coquimbo suffered cardiac arrests as a result of the quake, police said, while there were several landslides reported on national highways.

The earthquake, which hit at 0132 GMT (Sunday), was felt in Valparaiso, O'Higgins and the region of the capital Santiago, as well as in Atacama and Coquimbo up north.

Thousands of homes lost power, which showed how intense the quake was, according to Ricardo Toro of the National Emergency Office.

Residents in Coquimbo and neighbouring Serena, a coastal region about 500 kilometres from Santiago, evacuated to high ground even though authorities quickly ruled out a tsunami, according to local media.

The Coquimbo region experienced a tsunami in September 2015 after an 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck, killing a dozen people.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries.

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake in Chile was the strongest ever recorded, at 9.5, on the magnitude scale, according to the USGS.

Chile lies on the Ring of Fire — an arc of fault lines that circles the Pacific Basin and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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