Chile's earthquake death toll rises to 214

09:28, February 28, 2010      

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A Chilean walks on the debris of a building damaged by earthquake in Sandiago, capital of Chile, Feb. 27, 2010. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)

Chilean Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma said on Saturday that the death toll for the strong earthquake that shook the center-south of Chile on early Saturday morning has risen to 214.

Perez said that the earthquake was "a cataclysm of historical dimensions. Since 1960 we have never had an earthquake like this (.. ) however, we expect to normalize the country" in the coming 48 or 72 hours.

He urged the people to stay calm, saying that the government is working to meet the needs of those affected by the earthquake.

Meanwhile, the Chilean Housing Ministry said that at least 1.5 million houses were affected in the quake, but the authorities will make an exhaustive evaluation to determine the damages.

Treasury Minister Ernesto Velasco said that "Chile has the necessary resources. We have saved during previous years and now they are available."

A magnitude-8.8 tremor rocked Chile at 3:34 a.m. local time Saturday, knocking down homes and hospitals, and triggering a tsunami that rolled menacingly across the Pacific.

The epicenter was only 115 km from Concepcion, Chile's second- largest city with a population of 200,000 people.


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