Santiago: A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Chile, prompting an evacuation of coastal areas for fear of a tsunami and causing scenes of panic in an area devastated by a massive quake two years ago.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or significant damage, officials in Chile said.

But authorities ordered the evacuation of the central coast of Chile the same area devastated in 2010, when officials were criticized for waiting too long to allow residents to escape a tsunami.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said "a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected."

Government spokesman Andres Chadwick said the Office of National Emergencies had issued the evacuation order as a precaution due to "observation of a certain intake of the sea."

Chadwick said the decision was taken preventively to protect the population even though the visual sighting of the sea conditions had not been confirmed by technical experts from the navy's Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service.

In its first quake damage report, the emergency office said one person was injured in a car accident in the Bio Bio region.

"For now we do not have reports of any fatalities. There is some evidence of people injured, unfortunately from pieces of walls that fell," Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said.

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at 2237 GMT some 32 kilometers northwest of Talca in Chile's Maule region, the same area ravaged by a massive 8.8 earthquake in late February 2010.