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March 1, 2010
Death toll rises as Chilean quake rescue effort continues

Santiago, Chile. Photo: Flickr user Luis Iturra

The 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Chile two days ago has resulted in over 700 confirmed deaths thus far and infrastructure damage throughout the country.

Tsunami warnings spread across the Pacific, as far away as Japan and Alaska. Chilean coastal towns and off-shore islands experienced tsunamis from the quake. Rescue efforts are underway and the military has been called in to fend off looters.

Blogs and social media sites have been addressing the disaster and the impact of the quake around the world.

Foreign Policy Blogs writer Richard Basas discusses the immediate impact of Chile’s earthquake, concerns in the coming days and the differences between Chile’s and Haiti’s ability to handle natural disasters:

The actual quake was felt as far as Buenos Aires, but the main concern now for non-Chileans has been a Tsunami effect that has already hit Chile and islands near the mainland of Chile and South America. So far the damage from Tsunami has been limited, but warning about possible Tsunamis have been issued as far as Mexico and Hawaii, and even as far as Asia. Some reports have come out about Tsunamis landing in Mexico and Central America, and countries closer to Chile’s quake like Peru and Colombia but information is limited at this point.

Chile was hit by the largest recorded earthquake in history at 9.0 in the same area of the country in 1960. Unlike Haiti, whose quake was unexpected as one had not occurred for over 200 years before 2010, Chile and its structures have been designed and built to withstand quakes, and emergency plans and sophisticated Search and Rescue equipment exists in Chile to deal with quakes that are well known in Chile. Aid efforts in Concepcion, a city of 670,000 people and the town very close to the quake zone, Talca, are underway as few structures, even those earthquake resistant one can withstand an 8.8 magnitude earthquake. People trapped under collapsed structures often were inside their homes as the earthquake occurred in the middle of the night while most were asleep in their homes.

While Chile’s earthquake was 500 times stronger than the earthquake that rocked Haiti just over a month ago, Chile’s death toll was much smaller. Global Voices blogger Silvia Viñas writes about the praise that Chile is receiving for its disaster preparedness:

Quakes are commonplace in Chile; since 1906 and counting this most recent earthquake, Chile has experienced 28 earthquakes [es]—without counting the smaller in magnitude but still frequent seismic activity that is often felt around the country. The three biggest earthquakes that many Chileans can still remember left 30,000 dead in 1939, 3,000 in 1960, and 177 in 1985.

The international community, together with Chileans living abroad, have praised Chile’s preparedness in front of this devastating situation, which could have had an even higher casualty total.

Chile is the world’s leading supplier of copper, but the country’s copper mines and seaports are struggling to get back to full capacity, after suffering damages and power outages from the quake. The price of copper rose over 5 percent when the markets opened on Monday, and over a fifth of the copper mine capacity was shut down, according to Reuters.

Gwen Robinson, of the Financial Times blog Alphaville, discusses the damage done to Chile’s infrastructure and its impact on global copper prices:

A crucial factor for Chile is its identity as one of the most quake-prone countries on the Pacific Rim. This, as the FT explains, has ensured the country is well prepared for big shocks, with building codes that require shake-resistant construction and a rapid emergency response system.

Chile’s top copper mines also managed to escape much damage because of such factors — though commodities markets still reacted to the earthquake with precautionary buying of the metal.

In an effort to calm commodities markets, Santiago Gónzalez, Chile’s mining minister, said on Sunday that the country would honor all export commitments, citing its ample copper stocks.

But that hasn’t stopped copper prices soaring by the biggest amount in nearly a year on Monday. amid fears of supply interruptions and infrastructure damage to Chile’s copper facilities.

Social media such as Twitter and Facebook have been used in Chile to get information and locate loved ones. Mashable‘s Matt Silverman writes about one woman’s use of Twitter to track down her family member:

A woman was able to track down her missing sister-in-law today thanks to the help of a fellow Twitter user.

Earlier we posted some of the Chile earthquake pictures that Chileans have been sharing on Twitter of the devastation caused by this morning’s magnitude-8.8 earthquake. Many of our readers were moved, as we were, to see some of the destruction first-hand. But one reader, Sheryl Breuker, shared a personal story with us in the comments about the true power of social media in crisis situations.

Also on Mashable, CEO and founder Pete Cashmore, discusses the launch of Google’s new person finder:

The simple interface lets you choose between two options — “I’m looking for someone” and “I have information about someone,” then either query the database or enter new information. At the time of writing, the Person Finder app has 3,100 records.

Here are some Twitter posts about Chile today, some sharing information and others trying to locate people:

LisaTw RT @Baybe_Doll: #Chile #need help Building collapse – 52 families affected #loc Edificio Diego Portales

lluviafina RT @microsiervos: Google ofrece un servicio para la localización de víctimas del terremoto de Chile (@la_informacion) (citing Google’s new Person Finder service)

LaConqui #terremotochile SE BUSCA a Fernando Hormazabal y Lidia Concha de #Pellehue #chile Info al fono 02 – 3301412 (favor RT) #chileayuda (seeking info about missing persons)


1 comment


im scared of an earthquake

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