Chile lifts tsunami warning after earthquake scare

Three deaths so far as 8.3-magnitude earthquake has triggered evacuation of coastal areas

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Chile lifted the tsunami warning early on Thursday it had put in place after Wednesday's major earthquake, the government said.

"The tsunami warning is lifted for all national territory," the government's National Emergency Office said in a tweet.

A massive 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck the center of Chile on Wednesday, triggering the evacuation of coastal areas and warnings that tsunami waves could reach as far as Japan.

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet said three people were killed when a strong earthquake shook the country late on Wednesday and said she would travel to the worst-affected areas, according to the Reuters news agency. Ten others were injured.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) put the shallow offshore quake at a magnitude of 8.3 and said it hit just 228 kms north of Santiago, a city of 6.6 million people.

The 7:54 pm (2254 GMT) quake had a depth of eight kilometers, USGS said, also reporting two aftershocks, both above 6.0.

The Chilean government put the earthquake at 8.0 on the Richter scale.

Interior Minister Jorge Burgos said that the evacuation of coastal towns and cities was ordered as a precautionary measure.

The quake was felt as far away as Buenos Aires, in Argentina, about 1,400km away, while a tsunami warning was initially in place for the whole of Chile and Peru's Pacific coastline.

In February 27, 2010 quake that struck just off the coast of Chile's Maule region measured 8.8 in magnitude, making it one of the largest ever recorded.

It killed more than 500 people and inflicted an estimated $30 billion in damages.

[With Reuters]

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