Source AP ©

Rescuers search for 10 people after strong earthquake in Chile

Rescuers were searching for 10 people who may have been swept away by waves triggered by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake in southern Chile.

Authorities said the missing people, including a young girl, were at the beach at the Aysen Fjord, near the epicenter of the quake, and may have drowned.

The government's Emergency Bureau said there was no tsunami, but Saturday's earthquake apparently triggered avalanches that may have created large waves as they struck the sea at the bottom of the fjord.

A correspondent for television network Chilevision saw a man and his young daughter dragged into the water by a large wave. Correspondent Orlando Adriazola said he happened to be at the beach for the installation of a new antenna for his station.

The mayor of Puerto Aysen, Oscar Catalan, was also at the beach and saw six people being dragged away by the current, according to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

The government's Emergency Bureau said rescue patrols including military and police personnel, started searching early Sunday. Helicopters were used in the effort.

President Michelle Bachelet was flying to the area about 2,050 kilometers (1,700 miles) south of the Chilean capital of Santiago. The government said Bachelet was considering the release of emergency funding.

The quake hit early Saturday afternoon, sending many people into the streets in panic in Puerto Aysen and Puerto Chacabuco, the closest cities to the fjord, with a combined population of 35,000.

There was no major damage to buildings, but scores of panicked people sought treatment at hospitals for nervous conditions, said regional Gov. Viviana Betancourt.

Saturday's quake was the strongest and longest of hundreds of quakes that have been felt in the area since Jan. 22. Authorities believe recent seismic activity in the area is related to the pending birth of an undersea volcano.

Meanwhile on Sunday, a moderate earthquake shook Santiago in central Chile, with no immediate reports of damages or injuries. The 5.2-magnitude quake hit at 6:22 a.m. (1022 GMT) and was centered about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Santiago.

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