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Mega Earthquake in Chile: 8.8 Degrees in Richter Scale

Saturday, February 27th, 2010, 03:30 hours, eighty percent of the Chilean territory was struck by a quake, sixty times more powerful than the one in Haiti. Three minutes of terrible, horrendous shaking of the earth, kept people scared and resting in the streets. Suddenly the sky was filled with lights that resembled fireworks, but were explosions and fires due to the cataclysm. Most people were at home and sleeping; the tremendous roar of the coming quake woke up many of them, just in time to get out of their homes and be safe. Most streets and highways were empty, as well as schools and public areas, this fact kept the number of deaths in the hundreds.

A seven year old girl said: "I was sleeping and suddenly everything was falling down, we run outside and my legs were caught under a broken wall". An older man, with a sad face, said that the noise was the loudest he had ever heard in his life, and he lost his home two minutes later without being able to fetch anything from inside. In the morning light the whole country woke up without electricity, with collapsed buildings and bridges, torn highways, houses falling down, and no running water.

Talcahuano is the port which was completely destroyed by a high wave, right after the quake. Two other ports were also completely destroyed by the second wave, much higher than the first. Concepción is the city with more buildings that came down.

People in Chile at the moment don´t have water, electricity or gas in most of the territory. There are fires all around the country. Images from the Chilean television show that the ocean has swept many ports and cities. A young woman said "Thank God the destruction is not in accordance to the number of deaths, as everyone has lost most of their belongings, but the families had enough time to run into the mountains around them".

Communications have collapsed, but local media are strong and have been informing through radio, television and internet to the world. The last replication of the earthquake has been Sunday morning, ranging from 4 to 7 degrees in the Mercali scale, and affecting most of the country.

Authorities have declared state of cataclysm and are devoting two percent of the national budget to help the people as soon as possible, and have said that what they have right now is enough to help their citizens, but as soon as they feel they need assistance they will let the international community know.

Chilean television is showing the level of destruction, which is amazingly less than in Haiti, even though the quake is much bigger. Authorities have said this is because the soil has different complexion here and the construction rules are different from the Caribbean nation ones.

Chilean people have avoided deaths through applying the correct protocols for earthquake devastation. Local institutions such as hospitals, military and police are working hard and their work shows off in television channels. Chile is a well organized country that looks after its people in appropriate ways. Thanks to this level of care, the number of deaths is very low.

The Director of the National Office Against Disaster, Carmen Fernandez said: "Chile has a bigger capacity of response to the disaster than most of South American countries, but we are not magicians. We have suffered an enormous quake and highly specialized firemen are working throughout the country to help our people 24 hours a day"

Latin America and the Caribbean
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