updated 4/1/2014 8:02:01 PM ET 2014-04-02T00:02:01

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A major earthquake of magnitude 8.0 struck off the coast of Chile on Tuesday, near the mining area of Iquique, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

It said the quake was very shallow, only 6.2 miles below the seabed, which would have made it feel stronger. It was centered 53 miles northwest of Iquique.

It was not immediately known if the quake sparked a tsunami alert, but quakes of that size in the water near the coast usually do.

(Reporting by Sandra Maler; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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