A total of 711 dead, an indeterminate number of people missing and around 2 million people displaced after the collapse of 500,000 homes is the official balance 48 hours after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that affected Chile’s main cities in the early hours of Saturday, 27 February.
The authorities have decreed a disaster area in the Maule and Bio Bio Regions, where search and rescue activities will be concentrated in the hope of finding survivors and to distribute basic goods and services to the close to 3 million inhabitants there.
Military forces were also deployed to the regions adjacent to the epicenter, located some 325 km (200 miles) south of Santiago, so as to guarantee public order in the main cities, like the regional capitals of Talca and Concepción, as well as in the coastal cities most heavily affected by the rising tides, such as Talcahuano.
At the writing of this report the Santiago international airport was reserved for military operations and, due to the damages caused to the terminal, operating under significant restrictions until spaces for the embarkation and reception of passengers can be implemented.
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