A strong 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit central Chile but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, local emergency officials said.

The quake, which the US Geological Survey reported as 7.1 magnitude, struck the town of Tirua almost 70km (44 miles) northwest of Temuco, the director of the country's Onemi emergency office said.

‘Up until now we don't have any reports of injuries, there's no damage, just overloaded telephone lines and some partial power cuts. We're continuing to monitor the situation,’ said Onemi chief Vicente Nunez.

‘The situation is gradually getting back to normal," he added, giving the revised 6.5 magnitude figure for the tremor, which struck in the same region battered by a huge earthquake last year.

Last February, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami that devastated coastal towns, killed more than 500 people and damaged infrastructure across much of south-central Chile.

Chile, the world's top copper producer, has seen its economy surge on heavy spending to rebuild cities ravaged by the February quake and record prices for its main export.

Mr Nunez said the possibility of a tsunami along Chile's Pacific coastline had been ruled out after this evening’s quake, urging those people who evacuated their homes to return.