Updated: 27/12/16 : 05:52:27
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World :: Christmas 7.7 earthquake hits Chile

Thousands of people were evacuated from coastal areas in Chile after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami warning.

Around 4,000 people were ordered to leave towns on the south coast after the quake struck 25 miles south west of Puerto Quellon on the southern part of Chiloe island.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, in Hawaii, warned "hazardous tsunamic waves are forecast for some coasts."

However, the warning was downgraded to a watch but people were still told to stay away from the beaches.

The powerful quake ripped up part of a major road near Lake Tarahuin, however Chile's National Emergency Office said there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

Chile's National Emergency Office chief Ricardo Toro had called on residents of Los Lagos to abandon beaches and go to safe zones.

Taxi driver Luis Ramirez, who lives in the town of Ancud, said he was washing his car when the quake struck. He said: "I'm 48 years old and I've never felt anything so strong."

He said cars equipped with loudspeakers were patrolling the beaches telling people to evacuate to higher areas.

The quake struck at a depth of 22 miles and was felt in the Argentine city of Bariloche.

Chile has a long history of deadly quakes, including one measuring 8.8 magnitude in 2010 off the south-central coast, which triggered a tsunami that devastated several coastal towns and left 525 people dead.

That quake was so powerful it led to tsunami warnings in 53 countries and a "state of catastrophe" was declared.

Last year an 8.3 tremor caused a tsunami in the north of the country which killed 15 people.