Chilean security forces maintain public safety after earthquake and tsunami
By Dialogo April 02, 2014
Chilean military and security forces moved quickly to protect lives and maintain order after a massive offshore earthquake rocked the northern part of the country on the evening of April 1, 2014.
The 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck just before 9 p.m. local time 95 kilometers northwest of the city of Iquique, about 1,800 kilometers north of Santiago. It was followed by a series of aftershocks registering as high as 6.2. The earthquake was felt most strongly in the regions of Arica, Tarapaca and Antofagasta. The temblor caused landslides that blocked roads, knocked out electrical power and started fires. Six people were killed by falling debris or after suffering heart attacks, authorities said.
Shortly after the earthquake struck, the Chilean Navy’s Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service issued a tsunami warning for the Chilean coast. Security officials ordered the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from coastal areas.
A surge of water more than two-meters high struck the coast in the Iquique area about 45 minutes after the earthquake, Navy officials said, but there were no early reports of significant flooding damage.
Peruvian security officials also started evacuating communities in the southern coastal region of Ica as a precaution against a tsunami. Tsunami advisories were also issued for coastal areas in Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and for the Hawaiian Islands.
State of emergency
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency in the affected areas, and sent a C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft with 100 military Special Forces police from Santiago to the northern area. The Special Forces officers joined local police and 300 Army and Air Force personnel assigned to the area to assist evacuation efforts and prevent looting.
President Bachelet ordered Army and Air Force personnel to "take control of public order and prevent ... looting and disorder" in the affected areas. Army Brigadier Gen. Miguel Alfonso Bellet, commander of the 1st Armored Brigade "Cuirassiers," was assigned command in the Arica region and Air Force Gen. Arturo Merino Núñez, chief of the Joint Command North, was assigned command in the Tarapaca region.
Police and military security forces took control of gas stations and provided perimeter security for supermarkets in Iquique, a major port city of about 180,000 people, according to press reports. Attempts to loot stores and homes in Iquique were prevented by security forces, authorities said.
Security forces also began rounding up several hundred inmates who escaped from a women’s prison in Iquique during the earthquake. About two dozen escapees had been recaptured within twelve hours after the earthquake, authorities reported.
Security forces maintain order
Security forces responded to the earthquake and the tsunami warnings in an “exemplary” manner, said Jaime Baeza, a security analyst at the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Chile.
“The level of coordination between civil and military authorities was impeccable,” Baeza said. “The Armed Forces and the police responded immediately and their performance has been excellent.
Chilean military forces have extensive experience in dealing with earthquakes. After a February, 2010 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 500 people and devastated wide areas of central Chile, the government deployed 14,000 Amy and Navy troops to the affected areas and assigned relief efforts to military authorities. The military forces won praise from the population for arresting looters and restoring order to the area.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth happened in Chile - a magnitude 9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people and brought tsunamis to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines and the U.S. West Coast.
Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this report.
Thanks for this news, I have a brother there, in the northern Santiago de Chile. We feel more at peace now. Excellent, the world needs new policies that guarantee peace and security for all the people in the world. This is good This helps a lot of people, I agree with it, excellent â™¥ !!!!