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Major quake strikes Chile; 2 dead
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A strong earthquake measuring 7.7 Magnitude rocked northern Chile on Wednesday. Authorities reported at least two deaths and more than 140 injuries.


Residents watch a roof that collapsed on a car after an earthquake in Antofagasta, 1.360 km (845 miles) northwest of Santiago November 14, 2007. A powerful 7.7 magnitude quake hit mineral-rich northern Chile, damaging buildings and halting operations at some of the world's biggest copper mines.


The earthquake hit Chile's northern regions of Iquique and Antofagasta at 12:43 local time (1543 GMT), scaring the inhabitants and causing electricity and telephone problems, according to Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi).


In Arica city, an electricity blackout occurred at the start of the strong quake and the city continues without electricity.


"This was a strong quake," Onemi Director Carmen Fernandez said, and she also highlighted "the good reaction by Antofagasta's community."


Chile's government spokesman Ricardo Lagos Weber said the quakes epicenter was located 101 kilometers north of Calama city, some 1,560 kilometers north of Santiago.


The earthquake lasted about 40 seconds and preliminary reports state there were rock slides, landslides over highways which caused minor damages.


The quake was felt strongly in Antofagasta, where electricity and telephone services are still out and the inhabitants are awaiting the ocean's reaction to guard against any possible tsunami.


"Chile's Navy informed us that a tsunami is not possible," Lagos Weber said.


"The Civilian protection systems are operating, and it is also checking possible damages." he said.


Meanwhile, Chile's Interior Ministry Sub-Secretary Felipe Harboe said the regional report states it is impossible to communicate with the northern localities and "that is why emergency personnel has been sent there by land to find out how they are doing."


Most inhabitants are out on the streets to avoid being smashed by their house roofs. A preventive rescue operation has started to protect inhabitants.



(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2007)

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