SANTIAGO, CHILE —
A strong magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck north-central Chile on Saturday, causing buildings to sway in the capital of Santiago, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck at 4:31 a.m. local time about 47 kilometers (29 miles) southwest of Ovalle, a city 300 kilometers (185 miles) northwest of Santiago, at a depth of 36 kilometers (22 miles).
Chile's Navy first alerted, but later discounted, the possibility of a small tsunami.
"The situation in the region of the epicenter is now in a state of normality," Ricardo Toro, the head of Chile's emergency services, said in a press conference.
Toro added Saturday's quake was part of a string of aftershocks from an 8.3-magnitude quake that hit off the coast of Chile on September 16.
That September 16 quake killed 15 people, forced the evacuation of more than 1 million from coastal areas and caused much anxiety.
But seismologists said Chile's heavy investment in the structural reinforcement of buildings and its constant refinement of a tsunami alert system helped prevent what would have been a catastrophe in less prepared nations.
Chile is highly earthquake-prone. In 2010, a devastating 8.8-magnitude quake struck the country, one of the strongest ever recorded.
The quake and the tsunami it unleashed killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded also happened in Chile: a devastating magnitude-9.5 temblor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.