Earthquake Strikes Chile - February 27, 2010 (Mar 4 Update)

Santiago Chile

A magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile on February 27 at 3:34 a.m. and lasted approximately 3 minutes. According to CNN, the mega-quake is the 5th largest instrumentally-recorded earthquake on record and the first earthquake since 1964 to cause a Pacific-wide Tsunami warning.

The epicenter of the earthquake occurred in the Bío Bío region about 90 kilometers from Chile's second-largest city, Concepción. The death toll has eclipsed 300 with the highest concentration occurring in Concepcion and coastal communities near the epicenter.

President Michelle Bachelet has declared various areas of Chile as being in a state of catastrophe.

Live video of massive looting in Concepción on Sunday triggered an emergency meeting in the Chilean capital with representatives of the major retail and supermarket chains.

Update Sunday, 2:55 P.M.: Aftershocks continue to be felt in the Chilean capital of Santiago. The Metro transit system has reopened along the red line with some stations still closed on the others. The green line is currently still not in service. Electricity has been restored to 80% of the capital. There is currently a shortage of gasoline due to over-demand. The Metrogas gas company has reported no structural damage as a result of the quake.

Aftershocks continue to be felt in the Chilean capital of Santiago. The Metro transit system has reopened along the red line with some stations still closed on the others. The green line is currently still not in service. Electricity has been restored to 80% of the capital. There is currently a shortage of gasoline due to over-demand. The Metrogas gas company has reported no structural damage as a result of the quake.

Update Monday, 3:06 P.M.: Disturbing images are coming in of the damage along the coastal region. Over 48 hours after the earthquake, towns such as Dichato were reporting a complete lack of drinking water, diapers, milk and basic goods. The government is already receiving sharp criticism due to the lack of authorities in parts of the affected areas. Many residents in towns are demanding troops and aid. A television station showed neighbors in one area banning together with arms to defend themselves from looters.

Update Tuesday, 3:55 P.M.: Death toll has risen to 795. Aid has been arriving in the city of Constitución this morning via military helicopter. Curfew in Concepcion starts at 6pm and runs until noon tomorrow. Images last night of areas with little to no authorities were chilling - neighbors were arming themselves and banning together to protect themselves from bandits. Several thousand additional troops were being sent to the region and the area so far seems relatively calm. President Bachelet met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who brought some satellite phones and promised more aid to come. Peru's President Alan Garcia arrived in Chile with a field hospital, 21 medics and additional aid.

Update Thursday, 2:55 P.M.: Efforts have shifted primarily to recovery with aid and troops arriving in the devastated areas. International aid continues to arrive. Yesterday was marked by extensive finger-pointing between Chile's Navy and the National Emergency Office (ONEMI) over responsibility for the failed tsunami alert. President Bachelet is visiting distribution points in the affected areas amid heavy criticism over her government's performance during the crisis. A false tsunami alert yesterday revealed signs of a loss of credibility in the government's emergency response procedures and institutions. Over 200 inmates remain on the loose in the city of Chillan which has received very little press attention. Police in Concepcion are using media footage to track down suspected looters. In the capital, a few buildings are facing demolition due to structural damage. Power has been mostly restored in Santiago and volunteers, especially young people, are pouring in at various centers around the city, helping organize and pack donations for the affected regions. The number of flights coming in and out of the airport is increasing.

Photos from Revolver photographers on the scene:

Santiago Chile
Troops in Curicó, Chile. Photo by Jessica Phelps (click for more)

Santiago Chile
Collapsed bridge between Rancagua and Santiago. Photo by Joanna Rozniak (click for more)

For additional updates, check out The Santiago Times, follow #terremotochile on Twitter or follow Revolver.

Links and additional information:

Donating Blood:
Santiago: Ex Hospital Militar (Av. Vitacura near Metro Tobalaba) and Posta Central (Portugal #125, Metro Católica).
Valparaíso: Centro de Sangre de Valparaíso
San Fernando: Banco de Sangre Hospital de San Fernando, en Negrete 1401
Talca: Centro de Diagnóstico Terapéutico, ubicado al Costado del hospital Regional de Talca
Puerto Montt: Escuela Nº 6 de Puerto Montt

Red Cross Chile:
http://www.cruzrojamedia.net/

CNN Video Coverage:
http://www.cnn.com/video/

Link to website for locating people in Chile:
http://chilepersonfinder.appspot.com/?lang=es

Links to Spanish-language Chilean Media:
http://www.latercera.com/
http://www.emol.com/
http://www.lanacion.cl/

Links to English-language Chilean Media:
http://www.santiagotimes.cl/

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