March 15, 2001

Moderate earthquake hits central Chile

                  SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- A magnitude 5.3 earthquake shook central Chile on
                  Thursday, scaring residents and briefly disrupting telephone communication,
                  authorities said.

                  No major damage or injuries were immediately reported.

                  The quake had its epicenter 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the coast of Zapallar, a
                  Pacific resort city 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital, Santiago, said
                  Emilio Lorca, director of the Seismological Institute of the University of Chile.

                  The government's National Emergency Office said the tremor was felt along 800
                  kilometers (500 miles) of Chile's coast.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.