Residents walk to higher ground after a new 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit the northern port of Iquiqueon Wednesday. The powerful earthquake struck off northern Chile prompting tsunami alerts and evacuations along the coast and in neighbouring Peru. Photo: Reuters
A powerful 7.6 magnitude earthquake has rocked northern Chile, just over 24 hours after an 8.2 tremor killed six people, destroyed 2,600 houses and led to mass evacuations.
Meanwhile, Chile's navy canceled a tsunami alert for all of the coastline on Thursday following a strong 7.6 magnitude quake off the north of the country a day earlier, reports Reuters from Santiago.
It was the strongest of several aftershocks that followed a huge 8.2-magnitude quake blamed for six deaths in the same region on Tuesday.
Chile's emergency office, Onemi, which had earlier asked residents to evacuate the coastline, said "people can return to their homes."
The tsunami alert in Chile and Peru was again issued, with thousands of people urged to leave coastal areas.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was among those evacuated today.
The quake is the strongest of several aftershocks which followed Tuesday's earthquake.
There are no initial reports of damage from the latest tremor but the Chilean navy says that the first tsunami waves have hit the northern coast.
President Bachelet had earlier praised the "calm behaviour" of residents following Tuesday evening's quake.
Nearly a million people were evacuated across the country after the authorities issued a tsunami warning.
"I think you have shown us all a tremendous example," Bachelet said during a visit to the worst affected areas.
Bachelet declared two northern provinces - Arica and Parinacota, and Tarapaca - disaster areas.
Tuesday's quake struck at 20:46 local time (23:46 GMT) about 86km (52 miles) north-west of the city of Iquique, a mining area,
"We are here to recognise the calm behaviour of the people of Iquique, who showed great civic responsibility, as did those of Arica," said Bachelet.
Fires destroyed some businesses in the area and fishermen found their boats sunken and damaged in Iquique harbour.
Bachelet called on residents to "work together now" to repair the damage caused by the quake.
Waves of up to 2.1m (about 6ft) hit some areas.
Some 40,000 people in Tarapaca remain without power, said Ricardo Toro of Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi).
Hours after the first major earthquake, Chile's army was deployed to Iquique after some 293 inmates escaped from a women's jail.
Toro said that 131 had now returned voluntarily.
Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world.
Central and southern areas of the country were hit by a powerful earthquake of magnitude 8.8 followed by a tsunami that devastated scores of towns in February 2010. More than 700 people were killed.
In 1960 an area of Chile south of Concepcion was hit by a 9.5 magnitude which caused about 1,655 deaths and a tsunami in Hawaii and Japan.