The strong earthquake, measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale, rattled the coast of Chile, some 120 km south-west of the port city of Coquimbo, USGS said. Chile is part of the Ring of Fire, also called the Circum-Pacific belt, where about 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur.
Striking at a depth of 71.6 km, the epicentre of the earthquake was 54km south-west of Ovalle, whose population is more than 113,000 people.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or deaths, but there has been small damage to buildings, Chile earthquake monitors said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is yet to issue any alerts in connection with the earthquake, which was recorded at around 7.19am local time (11.19am UK time).
Chile’s National Seismological Center said the quake struck the north-central region at 7:19 am (1019 GMT), 35 kilometres (21 miles) north of Punitaqui at a depth of 75.8 kilometres.
The quake was reportedly felt from the Atacama in the north to BioBio region in the south.
Chile has a long history of deadly quakes, including an 8.8 magnitude quake in 2010 off the south-central coast that killed 525 people.
Strong aftershocks rippled through Chile after the earthquake triggered a tsunami which devastated several coastal towns, forcing millions from their homes.
In 1960 Chile was struck by the world’s most powerful earthquake, measuring 9.5, which left more than 5,700 people dead.
Good-natured Chileans took to Twitter to make light-hearted comments about the danger, or lack thereof, posed by the latest earthquake.
“Chile, a country where they consider a 6.5 ‘earthquake’ as a tremor while at other countries it’s the opposite.”
“No damage in my home thanks God, we live in a earthquake zone here in Chile so we are very used to it.”
A third tweeted:
“First earthquake we have felt since arriving to Santiago. It appears to be 6.2, north/center Chile. It didn’t wake the baby (but we did). We’re fine!”