Chile hit by 5.4-magnitude earthquake – reports of buildings shaking in Santiago

SANTIAGO – A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.4 struck central Chile, centered near the capital of Santiago, seismologists and residents said on Wednesday.

The quake shook buildings and woke residents in the Chilean capital Santiago – a city of 5.1 million inhabitants – in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The earthquake, which struck at 3:15 a.m. local time on Wednesday, was centered about 25 kilometers (15 miles) northeast of Farellones, or 41 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the capital city. It struck at a depth of about 74 kilometers (46 miles).

Witnesses in the capital said the tremor was felt very strongly.

One resident said: “Lots of shaking! Slight at first, one big shake, then continued for about 30 seconds.

Another resident, in Las Condes, added: “It was strong but it felt short.”

Chile’s emergency service Onemi said it did not have any reports of damage to services or infrastructure and the Chilean navy said the quake did not generate conditions to cause a tsunami along the coast.

Shaking was also felt in Las Condes, Puente Alto, Maipu, and other areas, as well as places across the border in Argentina. Many residents near the epicenter said they perceived the earthquake as much stronger than a 5.4.

Chile, located on one of the “Pacific Ring of Fire” fault lines, has a long history of quakes, including the Great Chilean earthquake in 1960. The 9.5-magnitude earthquake – the largest earthquake ever instrumentally recorded – left thousands dead.

The long, slender country runs along the border of two tectonic plates, with the Nazca Plate beneath the South Pacific Ocean pushing into the South America Plate, a phenomenon that also formed the Andes Mountains.