Earthquake registering 8.5 on the Richter scale

Chile strives to overcome the catastrophe

Both the government as well as the private sector are making efforts to restore basic services and to normalize the areas hardest hit by the powerful quake that shook the country.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010  

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"Our history is plagued with natural disasters that put the will, the mettle and the solidarity that characterize us as a nation to test. But our history has also proven our people’s strength and perseverance. I have no doubt that we will find the way to overcome this one, as we have done with all the difficulties we have faced. Be strong once again, Chile,” President Michelle Bachelet told Chileans in a national simulcast to help them overcome the crisis they are going through because of the powerful earthquake registering 8.5 on the Richter scale that shook the central-southern part of the country early Saturday morning.

Considering the tremendous destruction that a large part of the country has suffered from the earthquake, the government has organized aid to reach all affected sectors, which are mainly concentrated in the Maule and Bio Bio Regions. According to the National Emergencies Office (Onemi), in charge of reporting information in such cases, the death toll has already passed 700.

Among the measures to deal with this crisis, the government has sent basic supplies like water and food, which have begun to arrive. However, in some cases this has been delayed by the lack of communication and the damages to road infrastructure. In addition, campaign hospitals have been installed in diverse cities and towns to support existing hospitals, many of which were rendered useless in the earthquake.

For his part, Finance Minister Andrés Velasco affirmed that the government will provide relief to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that were affected when it comes to the deadlines and the mechanisms for fulfilling their tax responsibilities.

Basic services have also been restored in the majority of the country. For example, 89% of the population of Santiago already has electricity, though the company Chliectra has reported that services have yet to be normalized for 165,000 homes. In addition, some neighborhoods in Concepción already have electricity.