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Powerful Quake in Chile Kills at Least 8

The magnitude 7.9 temblor causes vast damage in northern Andean villages.

June 14, 2005|From Times Wire Services

SANTIAGO, Chile — A powerful earthquake rattled Chile's remote northern Andes near the Bolivian border Monday, killing at least eight people and causing widespread damage in several mountain villages.

Interior Undersecretary Jorge Correa said there might be more victims in some isolated communities, but added that no details were immediately available because of poor communications.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey and Chilean officials, making it the world's third strongest temblor since the quake that set off an Indian Ocean tsunami in December.

Correa said a boulder had fallen on an automobile killing all five passengers, including two children, near Iquique, more than 900 miles north of Santiago, the capital. The other victims were three elderly men killed in two different Andean villages. One of the victims was a disabled 80-year-old who died when a wall collapsed at his home.

The government emergency bureau in Iquique, a port city about 70 miles from the epicenter, said that several people had been injured. It did not say how many or provide other details.

The earthquake struck at 6:44 p.m. and was centered in an unpopulated Andean area, about 940 miles north of Santiago. It was also felt in several cities in southern Peru and Bolivia, but no victims or damage were reported in either country. In the Bolivian capital of La Paz, many people took to the streets in panic.

Power supply and communications were interrupted in Iquique and Arica, near the Peruvian border, but were being restored two hours after the quake.

A statement released by Chile's national emergency center, ONEMI, said there was no chance of the quake triggering a tsunami, because it was not centered in the ocean.

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