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Magnitude 6.8 earthquake strikes off coast of Chile

By the CNN Wire Staff
A local resident hurries to abandon the waterfront after an earthquake in Constitucion, Chile, south of Santiago, on Friday.
A local resident hurries to abandon the waterfront after an earthquake in Constitucion, Chile, south of Santiago, on Friday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Chilean President Sebastián Piñera says no major injuries reported
  • NEW: Images from TV Chile show residents of Concepción crying in the streets
  • A magnitude 6.8 earthquake rattled the central coastal region of Chile
  • It struck near the epicenter of last year's deadly quake in Concepción
RELATED TOPICS
  • Chile
  • Earthquakes

(CNN) -- There have been no reports of major damage or injuries in the wake of a magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Chile, according to the country's leader.

President Sebastián Piñera told TV Chile that the quake was felt from Valparaíso, north of Santiago, to the lake region in the south. He also said it was probably an aftershock of a massive and deadly temblor that rocked the region in February 2010.

Piñera arrived in Santiago to assess the situation a little over an hour after Friday's earthquake occurred.

It struck in the early afternoon off the coast of central Chile, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, with the Earth rupturing at a depth of 17.4 miles (28 kilometers) under the sea off the Biobío region. The epicenter was 30 miles (45 kilometers) north of Concepción, the regional capital and the second-largest city in Chile. Hundreds died there after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake rocked the city February 27, 2010.

Residents of coastal towns near Concepción self-evacuated, according to an Interior Ministry official. "This was done as a precaution," Rodrigo Ubilla told TV Chile. "We are calm and assured that there was no major damage."

Images from Concepción showed hundreds of people crying in the streets after fleeing office buildings and high-rise apartments. The city is still rebuilding from last year's quake.

There has been at least one strong aftershock from Friday's earthquake.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center never believed that a tsunami would affect any coastal regions, according to a statement released shortly after the quake. No tsunami watches or warnings were issued.

CNN's Brian Byrnes contributed to this report.