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Powerful earthquakes strike off northern Chile, no damage

Two powerful earthquakes with preliminary magnitudes of 6.9 have struck off the coast of northern Chile, triggering a small tsunami, seismologists say.

The first earthquake, which struck at 10:54 p.m. local time Tuesday, was centered in the ocean about 97 kilometers (60 miles) west of La Higuera, or 93 kilometers (58 miles) northwest of Coquimbo, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It was followed by a second 6.9-magnitude earthquake nearly an hour later, at 11:46 p.m. local time.

Both earthquakes struck about 10 kilometer (6.2 miles) below the ocean floor, making them shallow earthquakes.

Shaking was felt in coastal regions, witnesses said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, said Chile's National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry (ONEMI). The USGS estimated that approximately 1 million people in the region may have felt earthquakes, most of whom live in Coquimbo, La Serena, Copiapo, and Ovalle.

No tsunami warnings were issued after the earthquakes, but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said it had observed small tsunami waves after the first earthquake. "Persons along coastal areas near the earthquake should be observant and exercise normal caution. Otherwise, no action is required," the center said in a bulletin.

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