Santiago:  A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck off the coast of Chile on Monday, the US Geological Survey said, with no immediate tsunami warning issued or reports of casualties or significant damage.

The quake occurred at 0949 GMT at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers and the epicenter was 1,538 kilometers south-southwest of the capital Santiago, the USGS said in its initial report.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said historic data showed that no destructive widespread tsunami threat existed in the area -- but given the quake's strength, localized tsunamis were possible.

In February 2010, a massive 8.8-strength earthquake hit Chile's central Maule region, generating tsunami waves that killed more than 500 people and caused about USD 30 billion in damages.

Since then, further quakes have caused concern about what could be to come. Chile sits on what geologists call the Pacific "Ring of Fire" due to its intense seismic activity.

In May last year more than half a million people in the country's central coastal region of Valparaiso participated in an earthquake and tsunami drill.

(Agencies)

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