Int'l community offers sympathy, aid to quake-stricken Chile

10:35, February 28, 2010      

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The international community has responded quickly to the 8.8-magnitude earthquake the struck Chile early Saturday morning, offering sympathy and aid.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed condolences for the victims of the devastating Chilean earthquake and said his organization was ready to provide immediate assistance.

A statement issued by Ban's spokesman said the UN "is on standby to offer rapid assistance to the Chilean government and people."

"The secretary-general is very closely monitoring developments, including the risk of Pacific Rim tsunamis, after the huge earthquake in Chile," the statement said.

The statement said Ban was also seeking to contact the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is based in Santiago, for an assessment of the earthquake and information on U.N. staff. The quake struck central Chile at 0634 GMT about 115 kilometers northeast of the city of Concepcion and 325 kilometers southwest of Santiago, killing at least 120 people.

The earthquake was the biggest to hit Chile in 50 years.

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday sent a message of condolence to his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet over the casualties and property losses caused by the powerful earthquake.

Hu, on behalf of the Chinese government as well as in his own name, extended sincere condolences to Bachelet, the Chilean people and government as well as deep sympathies to the earthquake victims.

Hu said China was ready to offer emergency relief assistant to Chile to help those affected by the earthquake through their difficulties.

Hu said he was confident that under the leadership of the government, Chile would be able to overcome the catastrophe and reconstruct its homeland.

In Washington, the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the United States is monitoring situation in quake-stricken Chile, and is ready to provide assistance.

"We are closely monitoring the situation, including the potential for a tsunami. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile, and we stand ready to help in this hour of need," Gibbs told reporters.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said her country is ready provide "all the needed aid" to Chile.

In his letter of condolence to President Bachelet, Singapore's President S.R. Nathan said that on behalf of the people of Singapore, he extended his deepest condolences to the quake victims and their families, and wished those injured a speedy recovery from their trauma.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he was confident that under President Bachelet's leadership, Chile would recover from this catastrophe, and Singapore stood ready to join the international effort to assist Chile in this time of need.

In Brussels, Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said the commission is assessing the situation and stands ready to coordinate European efforts "should that be required."

"I want to first offer my condolences to the families of those who have been effected by this natural disaster," Georgieva, who had been following the news of the Chilean earthquake overnight, said in a statement. "I have immediately activated the crisis room at the Commission' s Monitoring and Information Center which is working with the EU's delegation in Santiago," the commissioner said. "I have mobilized humanitarian experts to undertake urgent needs assessments if required."

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