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UPDATE 1-Massive 8.0 quake off Chile sparks tsunami alert for Pacific coast of South, Central America

of South, Central America@ (Adds tsunami warning details)

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Reuters) - A major earthquake of magnitude 8.0 struck off the coast of Chile on Tuesday, sparking a tsunami warning for all of South and Central America's Pacific coast, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was very shallow, only 6.2 miles (10 km) below the seabed, and struck at 6:46 p.m. (2346 GMT) 62 miles (99 km) northwest of the mining port of Iquique, near the Peruvian border.

"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours," the tsunami center said.

The warning said that aside from Chile, the coasts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were also at risk. A tsunami of up to 6.3 feet (1.92 metres) could strike the town of Pisagua, Chile, within 44 minutes of the quake, it said.

In 2010, an 8.8-magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that caused major damage in several coastal towns in central-south Chile and killed hundreds of people.

(Reporting by Sandra Maler; Editing by Peter Cooney)