Chile Seeks International Aid
Chile's government asked the United Nations to provide international aid, two days after a giant earthquake ripped through the South American nation, killing at least 700, crushing buildings and sparking looting rampages in the hard hit south.
Speaking Sunday, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet sought to reassure Chileans that the government was up to the task of rebuilding, though she predicted the death toll from one of history's most powerful earthquakes would rise.
But as police and troops sought to restore civil order, efforts to determine the scope of destruction from Chile's earthquake were undermined by a string of aftershocks Monday that turned more buildings into rubble.
In the southern city of Concepción, closer to the epicenter, firefighters searched for an estimated 60 people trapped inside a tall apartment building that toppled onto its side.
One rescuer there was lowered deep into the rubble when tear gas fired at looters across the street forced him to pause efforts. Police had imposed an overnight curfew to control looters who sacked virtually every market in the city.
Across the Bio Bio River in the city of San Pedro, looters cleared out a shopping mall. A video store was set ablaze, two automatic teller machines were broken open, a bank was robbed and a supermarket emptied, the Associated Press reported.
Ms. Bachelet dispatched 10,000 troops to restore order and help rescue efforts in hard-hit southern towns. Ms. Bachelet predicted the number of dead would grow. Two million people were displaced, she said.
'We're facing an unthinkable catastrophe that will require an enormous effort in resources,' Ms. Bachelet said in a nationally televised address.
The magnitude 8.8 quake, the fifth-biggest ever measured, struck off Chile's coast around 3:30 a.m. local time Saturday, toppling buildings, twisting roadways and driving deadly waves into seaside towns. Damage to power and communications systems further hindered rescue efforts.
Most of the confirmed deaths so far are in the Maule region on the Chilean coast, which was closest to the epicenter. As much as 80% of some towns in the region was destroyed, officials said.
In a televised speech, Ms. Bachelet sought to reassure Chileans that the government had resources to restore order and rebuild. She said mobile dining halls in public schools would soon deliver up to two million meals a day in the most damaged regions.
Chile may also seek international aid for field hospitals, mobile bridges, telecommunications equipment, power generators, water-purification equipment and rescue workers to replace exhausted local crews, she said.
Government officials said restoring electricity is a top priority, especially to hospitals. 'In general, we are going to be able to restore electricity in the next 24 hours in most of the country,' Rodrigo Castillo, head of the electric power companies association said Sunday.
Repairing twisted roads, collapsed bridges, communications systems and other infrastructure will take more time. One of the two bridges that connect the main north-south highway along this long, thin Andean country collapsed during the earthquake. Workers were preparing to erect a pontoon bridge. 'Road damage was worse than what I expected,' Sergio Bitar, Chile's public-works minister, said at a news conference.
Economists sought to gauge damage to the infrastructure of Chile, the world's biggest copper exporter. The temblor shut several copper mines and refineries-at least temporarily-and will hurt commerce. State-run copper concern Corporación Nacional del Cobre, however, reopened El Teniente, the world's biggest underground mine, late Sunday, though its Andina mine remained closed. Analysts expected copper prices to open higher on Monday because of supply disruption. 'Chile is to copper what the Middle East is to oil,' says ANZ senior commodity strategist Mark Pervan.
While Chile's death toll is expected to rise, earthquake experts said it remains relatively low considering the quake's size. The quake's deep, offshore epicenter muffled its impact on a sparsely populated nation.
But preparation by quake-conscious Chilean governments also played an important role. Chile has enforced strict building codes since the late 1970s to limit earthquake damage.
Chile's earthquake released 500 times more energy than the quake that ravaged Haiti in January, said Paul Caruso, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colo. Though much smaller, Haiti's quake has claimed at least 220,000 lives because its epicenter was shallow and near a capital where many structures were built with virtually no oversight.
'Chile knows about earthquakes and was well prepared,' Mr. Caruso said. All the same, had such a quake occurred right by Santiago or any other city, 'the city would no longer exist,' Mr. Caruso said.
经济学界努力评估这个世界最大铜出口国的基础设施受损程度。地震迫使智利多家铜矿关闭──至少是暂时关闭──并将给商贸带来损失。但国营铜企智利国家铜业公司(Corporaci口n Nacional del Cobre)拥有的世界最大地下矿山El Teniente在周日较晚时候恢复了运营，不过该公司的Andina矿山仍然关闭。分析人士预计周一铜价将因供应中断开盘走高。澳新银行(ANZ)高级大宗商品策略师珀尔文(Mark Pervan)表示，智利之于铜相当于中东之于石油。
美国国家地震信息中心(National Earthquake Information Center)地球物理学家卡鲁索(Paul Caruso)表示，智利地震所释放能量超过1月份海地地震的500倍。该中心位于美国科罗拉多州果登市。海地地震虽然震级小很多，但造成至少22万人丧生，原因是震中较浅，并且接近该国首都，而这里很多建筑都是在没有监管的情况下修建的。