BOGOTA -- At least six people, including two children, were killed when a 5.5-magnitude earthquake jolted central Colombia Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

The earthquake occurred in Meta province at 14:21 local time (1921 GMT), and its epicenter was at a depth of 3.9 km, Colombia's seismological administration said.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake's epicenter was at 54 kilometers east-southeast of Bogota at a depth of 10 kilometers.

The dead, including two children, were killed when rocks fell on a bus at a highway linking Bogota and Meta provincial capital Villavicencio in a landslide caused by the quake. A dozen others were injured and the highway was paralyzed.

Residents fled into the streets fearing their houses could collapse as aftershocks continued. Water and power supply was cut off in some affected areas.

As the quake struck very shallow, it was strongly felt. Flattened buildings, damaged bridges and rocks falling down in landslides have blocked many roads in Meta province, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Several power stations caught fire in the quake, which also affected the country's central, south and southeast areas.

Police have shut down all highways leading to Meta province and Social Protection Minister Diego Palacios, who was traveling with President Alvaro Uribe in the southwestern town of Florida when the quake hit, was heading for the affected region.

Meanwhile, a series of moderate earthquakes, with the strongest one at 5.3 in magnitude, hit another South American nation Chile Saturday morning and caused panic among local people.

At least four quakes struck the region about 1,000 km south of the capital Santiago, said the Chilean national emergency situations office. The tremors were widely felt across the region.