Source: Agencies | 2012-4-18 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
A MAGNITUDE-6.7 earthquake rocked central Chile late on Monday, prompting authorities to order a preventative evacuation of a stretch of coastline, causing hundreds of people to flee buildings in panic and shaking up the visiting prime minister of Canada.
There were no reports of major damage, but authorities in the port city of Valparaiso said a 72-year-old man died of a heart attack during the quake, which was felt for almost a minute in Valparaiso and Santiago, the capital.
The US Geological Survey initially put the quake's magnitude at 6.5 but later raised it to 6.7. Its epicenter was 42 kilometers northeast of Valparaiso, and it had a depth of 37 kilometers. It struck just minutes before midnight local time on Monday.
The Chilean navy's hydrographic and oceanographic service discounted the possibility of a tsunami, but authorities maintained an order for people to move to higher ground along a roughly 780-kilometer stretch of coastline running from the city of Constitucion to Tongoy.
Deputy Interior Secretary Rodrigo Ubilla said the preventative evacuation would be kept in place until authorities had confirmed there were no major variations in the ocean.
The quake knocked out power and telephone service in various parts of Santiago, but the National Emergency Office of the Interior Ministry said that it had received no reports of major damage or injuries so far.
There were reports of rockslides on a highway outside of Santiago, and residents of Valparaiso said the facades of some old buildings had fallen.
Public Works Minister Laurence Golbourne said Chile's airports and roadways appeared undamaged.
Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was awakened by the earthquake, but was not hurt.
"The prime minister and his wife were at the hotel when the earthquake happened," said Andrew MacDougall, Harper's director of communications. "All members of the Canadian delegation, including the prime minister, and his wife, Laureen, are just fine."
Chile is highly earthquake-prone. In 2010, an 8.8-magnitude quake caused a tsunami that obliterated much of the coastal downtown of Constitucion.