CONCEPCIÓN, Chile – The search for earthquake survivors remains in full force as rescue crews with sniffer dogs searched the country’s decimated cities looking for signs of life. Four days after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake tore through the country, the nation’s armed forces have subdued the looting and violence that had engulfed many cities hours after the natural disaster. President Michelle Bachelet asked her countrymen to focus on contributing to the relief efforts and not to worry about the perceived lack of food and fuel. “There is no shortage, there is enough food and therefore we must remain calm,” she told Reuters. “There is also enough fuel, there is no risk of shortages.” Bachelet has tried to maintain order with her dusk-until-dawn curfew and using the military to oversee aid distribution. The death toll, which stands at 799 according to the government’s latest figures, is expected to increase as relief teams comb the rubble of cities that were hit by the earthquake or the tsunami that struck the coastline, according to Reuters. “We had no idea, we only found out what was going on because some people saw the ocean swelling and we took off for the hills,” said Isaac Lagos, who lives in a small fishing village just north of Concepción, which is 115 kilometers (70 miles) southeast of the earthquake’s epicenter, to Reuters.
Power is returning to cities hardest hit by earthquake
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said power is returning to cities that were hardest hit by the earthquake that rocked the nation on Feb. 27, according to the Bloomberg News Service. The natural disaster, which eradicated 500,000 homes according to the Chilean government, caused severe power outages that brought the nation to a grinding halt. But it appears the worst may be over, as power has started to flow in Maule and Bio-Bio, the two regions that received the biggest brunt of the earthquake, which was one of the most powerful that’s ever been documented. “That makes the emergency work easier in many cases,” Bachelet said at a recent press conference. “It allows drinking water services to be restored and, most importantly, it provides people with reassurance.” Chile’s local relief efforts are focused on restoring the country’s necessities, which include communication and basic services, in regions that were crushed by the earthquake, the country’s largest in 50 years, according to Andrés Velasco, the country’s finance minister. “In the last 24 hours we have been able, through a tremendous effort, to progressively reestablish water, power supplies and improve the quality of communications in the most affected areas,” he told Bloomberg.
Chile’s fishing and wine industries dealt major blow by earthquake, tsunami
The tsunami that hit the coastal city of Talcahuano caused 50-ton fishing boats to fly out of the water and onto land, which destroyed the US$40 million anchovy and sardine business that is vital to the town’s economy. The salmon industry also suffered a major blow, as the earthquake collapsed bridges and destroyed highways that are integral in the transportation of the country’s internationally known fish industry, according to The Associated Press. The earthquake also wreaked havoc on the country’s wine industry, as it caused power outages that made it impossible for vineyard officials to communicate with foreign investors or call employees to discuss when the grapes will be harvested. “You have to get grapes from the vineyards to the winery, and I don't know the condition of the roads around the winery,” said Mark Osmun, spokesman for California's Jackson Family Wines, owner of the Viña Calina winery in the devastated Talca region about 65 miles (105 kilometers) from the earthquake’s epicenter, to the AP. It is estimated that Chile’s wine industry suffered US$500 million to US$600 million in damages from the earthquake, Luis Mayol, chairman of the country’s agricultural chamber, told Reuters. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet placed her initial estimate of the total damage to her country by the 8.8-magnitude earthquake and tsunami at US$30 billion, according to the AP.