More quakes hit Chile; president sworn in
A series of strong aftershocks from last month’s devastating quake rocked Chile on Thursday as a new president was sworn into office and immediately urged coastal residents to move to higher ground in case of a tsunami.
The strongest aftershock, with a magnitude of 6.9, was nearly as strong as the quake that devastated Haiti’s capital Jan. 12. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
The Chilean Navy issued a tsunami warning while the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the aftershocks were too small to cause dangerous waves beyond Chile’s central coast.
President Sebastian Pinera was inaugurated at a congressional building in coastal Valparaiso before the building was evacuated as a precaution. The seven aftershocks strongly swayed buildings and sent frightened Chileans streaming into the street.
The magnitude-6.9 aftershock is the strongest since the Feb. 27, magnitude-8.8 quake. It occurred along the same fault line, said geophysicist Don Blakeman at the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado. The USGS initially estimated the aftershock’s magnitude at 7.2.
Pinera said he would go right to work. The billionaire investor, Harvard-trained economist and airline executive planned a working visit Thursday to the coastal city of Constitucion, where the tsunami destroyed the scenic downtown, and a late-night Cabinet session.
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