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Major earthquake jolts Chile tourist region on Christmas Day

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A major 7.6 magnitude earthquake jolted southern Chile on Sunday, prompting thousands to evacuate coastal areas, but no fatalities or major damage were reported in the tourism and salmon farming region.

The quake disrupted Christmas celebration plans for thousands of people who fled their homes on foot, in cars and on horseback, seeking higher ground amid torrential rains in some places as sirens warned of a potential tsunami.

“It was the biggest scare of our lives,” said Denisse Alvarado, a resident of the southern Chile fishing town of Quellon, located on Chiloe Island, a tourist destination in Chile’s Los Lagos region northwest of Patagonia.

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