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Powerful Chile Aftershock Inflicts Further Damage March 12, 2010
Quake Map of Chile
The strongest aftershock so far of Chile’s devastating Feb. 28 temblor and subsequent tsunami rocked the nation at midday Thursday as the country’s new president was taking office.

Significant damage was reported in the central Chilean city of Rancagua from the 6.9 magnitude quake, which struck at 11:40 a.m. local time about 90 miles southwest of Santiago. There were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities.

A regional tsunami alert was briefly issued before officials discovered no significant change in sea level had occurred.

The strong shaking came as dignitaries gathered in the capital to witness Sebastian Pinera succeed Chile's first female president, socialist Michelle Bachelet. She is constitutionally barred from being elected to a second consecutive term.

Bachelet’s public approval rating has remained high during the closing day of her presidency despite the country’s seemingly sluggish response to the quake and tsunami.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Don Blakeman said the latest aftershock occurred along the same fault zone as the 8.8 magnitude quake in late February.

"When we get quakes in the 8 range, we would expect to see maybe a couple of aftershocks in the 7 range," he told reporters.

Blakeman cautioned that there could now be a whole new series of aftershocks due to the latest jolt.