Fourteen people were injured and thousands evacuated in central Chile between Valparaiso and the Biobio region after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the country Sunday evening, the Chilean Interior Ministry informed on Monday.
Only one death was confirmed at Horacio Villablanca locality. According to the village's mayor Israel Urrutia, a 74-year old woman died of heart attack after the quake hit the city. National emergencies Services denied however the death was “directly related to the earthquake.”
The quake struck 32 kilometres north- northwest of the town of Talca at a depth of 36 kilometres at 7:37 pm local time, Sunday, which is the same region ravaged by a massive earthquake in late February 2010.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said there was no risk of an ocean tidal wave like one that devastated the coast of central Chile in 2010.
Officials said that some 25 000 people had been evacuated by the time the all-clear was given a few hours later. Government spokesperson Andres Chadwick said the Office of National Emergencies had issued the evacuation order as a precaution due to observation of a certain intake of the sea.
Chadwick said the decision was taken to protect the population even though the visual sighting of the sea conditions had not been confirmed by technical experts from the Navy's Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service.
In its first quake damage report, the emergency office said one person was injured in a car accident in the Bio Bio region. More injuries were reported from falling debris in the interior of a Catholic church in Santiago.
Chilean news media reported electrical blackouts and broken phone lines in the area around Talca, 300km south of the capital, Santiago.
Tall buildings shook in Santiago, and fear gripped people in shopping centres, supermarkets and the city's stadium where a football game was under way.
The USGS initially reported the quake's magnitude as 7.2 but later downgraded it to 7.1.
The Maule coastal region has been periodically shaken by powerful aftershocks since the February 27 2010 quake, which claimed more than 500 lives and billions of dollars in damage. Most of the deaths in that quake occurred from tsunamis that slammed into coastal towns and villages.