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Powerful quake hits central Chile, coastal residents urged to evacuate for higher ground
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) ' A magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck central Chile on Sunday night, prompting authorities to urge evacuations for a long stretch of the coast as a precaution against a tsunami. There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.
The quake struck 20 miles (32 kilometers) north-northwest of Talca, where residents said it lasted about a minute and was the strongest they had felt since the city was rocked hard by the huge quake that devastated central Chile two years ago.
The U.S. Geological Survey initially said the quake had occurred offshore.
People reacted with alarm in Constitution, whose coastal downtown was partly obliterated by the tsunami caused by the 2010 quake.
Panic struck in other cities, with people running out of skyscrapers and many places were left partly or totally without electrical power. Phone service collapsed due to heavy traffic.
Residents living near shore were warned to head for higher ground, although the quake struck after nightfall, making evacuations more difficult.
The Chilean navy's hydrographic and oceanographic service said the quake wasn't the type to provoke a tsunami, but the national emergency office maintained its evacuation order nevertheless.
The USGS said the epicenter was 134 miles (215 kilometers) south of Santiago, Chile's capital. It was 19 miles (30 kilometers) deep.