The magnitude of the catastrophe that Chile experienced in the early morning hours of Saturday, February 27 was cause for concern the world round. And with good reason. The quake reached a magnitude of 8.8 on the Richter scale, making it the fourth strongest earthquake on Earth since 1900. In fact, NASA has stated that the movement probably changed the axis of the Earth and affected its rotation.
The world’s press has echoed the magnitude of the natural disaster. Newspapers such as El País in Spain, The Washington Post in the United States, El Universal in Venezuela, The Guardian in the United Kingdom, La Nación and Clarín in Argentina, the Comercio in Peru, and news networks such as CNN have given ample coverage to the earthquake and tsunami that battered the central-south zone of Chile.
One example is the article in US Time magazine, “Chile and Haiti, a Tale of Two Earthquakes”, which stressed that although the quake in Chile was stronger than that of Haiti, the number of casualties was exponentially lower, largely due to the quality of the infrastructure. «Chile is more developed because it’s doing things right,” the publication asserted.
The New York Times has also provided special coverage on the situation in Chile. In one of its articles, the newspaper reported that “As the Chilean government employed helicopters and boats to extend aid to earthquake-battered regions, President Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday began to grapple with the enormous cost of rebuilding the country, saying it could extend into the tens of billions of dollars.
Another renowned newspaper, Spain’s El Pais, published an editorial that stressed the resilience of the Chilean people in this type of situation, “the qualities of the Chilean people are able…to shine above all doubts. The valor with which they battled the dictator is only comparable to the virtuosity with which they demolished it. Their ability to conciliate races, ideas, and creeds is an both an example and a guarantee of its own progress. They will be strengthened by this disaster. They will overcome it armed with the weapons they have always used: their tenacity and humility,” states the article signed by Antonio Caño.
In Latin America earthquakes and the measures that Chile has taken to confront the consequences has been a central topic in the media coverage. Clarín, for example, wrote “Strong Earthquake in Chile: at least 122 deaths,” and has followed the topic through its web site. The influential newspaper published the story of a young woman from Mendoza who was working in the Concepción airport and told her experience of the earthquake. «Despite everything, she says she wants to continue living in Concepción, where she has a good life and has never been at a loss for work.”
The O Globo in Río de Janeiro has followed the rescue efforts with special attention. “Chilean government confirmed 799 deaths and intensifies the search for survivors,” read the headlines of one of its reports in which it tells of the efforts of the rescue teams looking for survivors trapped inside fallen buildings.
Another aspect that was picked up by the communications media was the looting of stores and supermarkets in the most affected cities, primarily Concepción. The situation has now been controlled with the reestablishment of public order by the Armed Forces of Chile, as well as with the arrival and delivery of necessary food and supplies. For example, Le Monde of France reported in reference to these measures that “Chile deployed its troops and asked for international help.”