updated 12/18/2008 8:12:40 PM ET 2008-12-19T01:12:40

A powerful earthquake shook central Chile on Thursday, alarming residents of Valparaiso, the nation's second-largest city, but apparently causing no major damage, officials said.

The 6.3-magnitude quake struck at 6:19 p.m. local time and was centered about 45 miles north of Valparaiso, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Seismological Institute of the University of Chile said the quake's magnitude was 5.9.

The quake was followed by two aftershocks, one of which the USGS measured at magnitude 5.8.

Some residents of Valparaiso — which together with sister city Vina del Mar have 1.6 million inhabitants — fled into the streets when the quake struck.

But Carmen Fernandez, head of Chile's Emergency Bureau, said there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.

"It's a strong quake, but it's still 45 miles away from the city," said John Bellini, a USGS geophysicist in Golden, Colo.

"This would not be expected to cause large, widespread damage."

Valparaiso is Chile's second-largest city and lies 75 miles northwest of Santiago. The quake was felt in Chile's capital.

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