Chilean officials console the country and reconfigure death toll
by Tyler Finigan
Reacting to her government’s slow response to the aftermath of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile on Feb 27, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet asked Chileans to come together in regard to reconstruction efforts and relief.
Still dealing with several aftershocks, as well as a tsunami that has almost completely destroyed some of Chile’s cities, locals have fled in hopes of finding protection from other potential dangers. The fear of scarcity of food and water have resulted in riots and stockpiling in central Chile. In the last week Chilean police and troops have been called in and have managed to control the looting which have been going on since the initial quake.
“There is enough food and therefore we must remain calm.” Bachelet said in a nationally televised speech aimed to shed some light on the situation.
The earthquake is said to be Chile’s worst natural disaster in the last 50 years and has a rising death toll which has reached over 800. Chilean officials hold themselves responsible for not clearly warning villagers about the tsunamis or the aftershocks which continue to increase the death toll.
“People died because of a lack of information,” Valder Vera, a survivor in Dichato said to The Gazette. Due to confusion involving missing people, Chilean officials are unclear on the exact body count and, as a result, the death toll has been overestimated by almost 500 people.
“The number of people dead continues to be lamentable,” Carmen Fernández, the Director of Emergency Management told the New York Times, “But it is significantly lower than those killed in earthquakes like this one that have occurred in other parts of the world.”
Central Chile, the area most affected by the earthquake, accounts for almost half of the casualties. Essentials such as food and water arrived later than expected, causing controversy within the government’s about their efforts to aid their country. To answer back, Bachelet sent over 1500 military troops to restore order in the area. More than 250 Canadians are known to be missing in Chile, yet no casualties have been identified. Chilean officials are combing the central cities, trying to contact Canadians by any means necessary.
“At this time there are no reports of Canadian casualties,” said Fountain-Smith, on the phone to The Gazette. The Canadian government has promised to give up to two million dollars, in hopes to give financial aid to the search and rescue missions.
NASA has issued reports saying its models show that the quake was so powerful it shifted the earth’s axis by approximately eight centimetres and could have possibly shortened the length of a day.