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Magnitude 7.6 earthquake hits coast of southern Chile

A tsunami warning has been lifted after a major 7.6 magnitude earthquake in southern Chile. No fatalities were reported but 21,000 homes were reported to be without power.

The earthquake struck on Christmas morning, 225 kilometers (140 miles) southwest of Puerto Montt. A tsunami warning was initially issued but lifted three hours after the quake struck.

The US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center urged vigilance, however, for "minor sea level fluctuations" in coastal areas. 

Chile Karte (DW)

Chile's National Emergency Services (Onemi) chief Ricardo Toro said no fatalities had been reported. 

Actual waves later measured in Puerto Melinka, Chile, reached only 8 centimeters above tide levels. The coastal region is known for tourism and salmon farming. 

"There was a lot, a lot of movement here, but besides that nothing of note, there weren't houses falling," said Alamiro Vera, owner of the Cabanas Hotel in the southern Chile fishing town of Quellon. "It was just scary, and some things inside fell."

Onemi said one bridge in the area was impassable as crews  worked to restore electricity to 21,000 homes without power.

"The earthquake hit us as we were having breakfast and we immediately ran out of the house because of fears of a tsunami," one man who fled with his family from the town of Castro told Chilean television.

The depth of the quake was 34.6 km (21.5 miles), according to the US Geological Survey. According to media reports, the quake was felt in the southwest Argentine city of Bariloche.

Chile is in a quake-prone region, lying on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire of frequent seismic activity.

The last major quakes were in 2010 when more than 500 people died and in September 2015 when a 8.3 magnitude quake and tsunami left 15 people dead.

kbd/jm (dpa, Reuters, AFP,  AP)