Chile earthquake: ACT already present

Sunday, February 28, 2010

ACT Alliance is preparing to respond to the earthquake that hit Chile Saturday. The quake killed at least 300 people, most of them in their homes. The 8.8 quake is one of the biggest ever recorded and the largest to hit Chile in 50 years.

ACT Alliance member Church World Service (CWS) is now undertaking emergency response and recovery work. CWS has worked in Chile for many years to provide emergency preparedness training – something that may well have saved many lives in this disaster. Working with Chilean organizations Fundacion de Ayuda Social de las Iglesia Cristianas and the Methodist Church of Chile, CWS will now work to provide emergency assistance such as food, water and shelter.

John Nduna, General Secretary of ACT Alliance express his deepest sympathy for those affected by the earthquake, only weeks after the earthquake in Haiti. Many ACT members are ready to support the work CWS is doing in Chile.

1.5 million homes damaged
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said that two million people had been affected by the earthquake. It is feared that the damage may cost tens of billions of dollars. One major rescue effort is in the city of Concepcion, where 100 people are feared trapped in a collapsed apartment block. Villages in the area have been flattened, highways sliced in two and bridges collapsed. About 1.5 million homes have been damaged and police patrols have been stepped up to deter looters. Most of the collapsed buildings were of older design - including many historic structures. The capitol Santiago was shaken, but spare

Many Chileans in affected areas have spent the first night since the earthquake outdoors, afraid to stay inside. Many have left their homes to stay with friends and relatives that are better off. In the areas hit by the quake, there is no electricity or water distribution. The hard hit city of Concepcion has not received any food or other aid from Santiago.

Restoring public service
Jose Abumohor, of Chile's national emergency centre, said efforts were already under way to restore public services. "The aim is as soon as possible that we manage to reach a state of normality," he said. Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez said Chile did not want aid offers to be "a distraction", adding: "Any aid that arrives without having been determined to be needed really helps very little." General Secretary John Nduna fully agree. “Our members will try to supplement the effort of the government, specially in communities where our local partners have been operating for years.