Friday, February 25, 2011

Chilean quake survivors still suffer one year later

After being shaken one of the worst earthquakes on record one year ago survivors of a major quake in Chile continue to suffer numerous hardships.

According to Chilean president Sebastián Piñera 50% of rebuilding efforts in the regions hit by the February 27, 2010 tremor and tidal wave have been completed. After signing into law the creation of a new civil protection agency, Piñera said that the reconstruction included housing, hospitals, airports, and other public works projects.

Some Chilean Cabinet officials also shared Piñera’s optimism. “The impact of reconstruction on growth is becoming stronger as time goes on,” asserted Finance Minister Felipe Larrain to Reuters. Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter added that the Piñera administration was “on top of reconstruction efforts” to the tragedy that took place less than two weeks before he took office.

Despite such a positive outlook the reality is somewhat different in the affected Maule and Bio-Bio areas. One community activist told TeleSUR that the government’s help was “all talk” and little action. As we mentioned last November, some residents felt “forgotten” by officials focused instead on the 33 workers trapped in the San Jose mine. According to Mexico’s Milenio, tourism in those regions has nosedived while some infrastructure problems continue.

Reconstruction in Chile seems to be going at a faster pace compared to parts of Haiti that were hit by a major tremor thirteen months ago. Yet both countries share a commonality: quake survivors facing immense difficulties residing in temporary camps.
In Dichato, almost all the 3 000 residents are in temporary shelters in a zone with no running water, where the cramped living conditions are reviled by those forced to stay there.

"Life in the village is horrible, disgusting. To me, it's like being in a concentration camp," Toledo said.

They and others left homeless from the quake are still waiting for new homes.

Authorities said 135 000 people have been assigned houses to houses yet to be built, but bureaucracy was dragging out the process.
The earthquake that measured 8.8 on the Richter scale cost 525 deaths, 25 people disappeared and 800,000 survivors left homeless.

Image- Enrique Marcarian/Reuters via (“A resident retrieves some belongings from a building…in Talca, after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile” one year ago.)
Online Sources-,, The Latin Americanist, Milenio, Europa Press

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