Quake Ravaged Chile Suffering From Powerful Aftershocks and Looting Asks World for Help

March 1, 2010

(ChattahBox)—Chile is trying to return a sense of normalcy, after experiencing a magnitude 8.8 earthquake on Saturday, by quickly restoring electricity to major cities. But with continued aftershocks, an outbreak of looting and an estimated two million residents without homes, the rebuilding efforts won’t be easy. The death toll has reached 708 and is expected to climb, as rescue workers discover more dead buried beneath the ruble. Many highways, bridges and buildings have been decimated by one of the strongest quakes in recorded history. President Michelle Bachelet called the devastation, “an emergency unparalleled in the history of Chile.” Bachelet dispatched soldiers to keep order in the cities of Concepción and Santiago, as desperate residents have descended upon damaged supermarkets to find food and water for their families.

After first asking other nations to hold off on sending aid, until officials could make an assessment of the damage, Bachelet is now reaching out to the world for help:

“The United Nations said Monday it would quickly send relief to Chile after the government opened up to aid and identified its emergency needs as temporary bridges, field hospitals, satellite phones, electric generators, damage assessment teams, water purification systems, field kitchens, and dialysis centers.”

The European Union has pledged immediate assistance and the United States promised aid to help the ravaged nation. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be arriving in Chile on Tuesday, as part of a previously scheduled visit o Latin America.

According to the account by the New York Times:

“The police fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse hundreds of people who forced their way into shuttered shops in the southern city of Concepción, which was devastated. But law enforcement authorities, heeding the cries of residents that they lacked food and water, eventually settled on a system that allowed staples to be taken but not televisions and other electronic goods.”

And Bachelet later reached a deal with the supermarkets, to give away food to residents. She pledged to restore power to the cities, as soon as possible. “We need energy first,” said Bachelet.

Many of the deaths were from the Southern coastal Maule region, with 541 and the region of Bío-Bío suffered about 64 fatalities.

A powerful aftershock on Sunday of 6.1 magnitude sent frightened residents running towards the streets. Many people are now sleeping on the streets at night, afraid of becoming buried beneath crashing buildings, from additional aftershocks.

Meanwhile, rescue efforts continue to uncover people buried alive beneath toppled buildings.

See The New York Times for more.

Photo Source: Tomas Munita for The New York Times


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