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Chile troops set curfew after quake

[ 2010-03-02 11:35]     字号 [] [] []  
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Death toll climbs past 700; planning, building codes get credit for saving lives

CONCEPCION, Chile - Chile's government scrambled on Monday to provide aid to thousands of homeless in coastal towns devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunamis as 10,000 troops moved into stricken areas to quell looting.

Chilean television has shown images of supermarkets in Concepcion that have been stripped of stock and looters making off with fridges and plasma televisions. Teargas intended to drive looters away has hampered efforts to rescue survivors from the nearby ruins of a toppled tower block, the New York Times reported.

The government raised the death toll to 711 from Saturday's 8.8 magnitude quake as harrowing scenes of destruction emerged in isolated towns swamped by the giant waves that were triggered by one of the strongest earthquakes in a century.

As Chileans accelerated their rescue, aid and security efforts in damaged regions, officials told the Washington Post, they also took pride in the comparatively low death toll, a result widely attributed to the country's meticulous planning and preparation.

President Michelle Bachelet welcomed offers of international aid, saying that the country faces "a catastrophe of such unthinkable magnitude that it will require a giant effort to recover."

With many people missing and some communities in the worst-hit central region of the South American country still largely cut off by mangled roads, Bachelet said the death toll was certain to rise.

Surging waves ruined houses and smashed cars in fishing villages on the country's long Pacific coast. In the town of Constitucion alone, about 350 people died, state TV quoted emergency officials as saying.

"We don't have water or anything. No one has appeared with help and we need more police to keep order. There are many people here who are robbing," said a 78-year-old woman who identified herself as Ana in the badly hit city of Talca.

In Concepcion, angry survivors camping along roads took out their frustration on firefighters who were distributing drinking water in thermoses and tea kettles, damaging their vehicles.

The damage from the quake could cost up to $30 billion, equivalent to about 15 percent of Chile's gross domestic product, said Eqecat, a firm that helps insurers model catastrophe risks.

Chile's biggest copper mines affected by the quake slowly resumed operations but analysts said limited power supplies could curtail exports and push up copper prices further.

Some economists predicted a deep impact on Chile's economy after the quake damaged its industrial and agricultural sectors in the worst-hit regions.


1. How much damage in US dollars was wrought by the earthquake?

2. What is the low death toll attributed to?

3. What was the magnitude of the earthquake?


1. 30 Billion.

2. Strict building codes.

3. 8.8.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Chile troops set curfew after quake

Chile troops set curfew after quake

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for China Daily for one year.