Over 400 Australians in Chile when quake strikes: FM

10:10, March 01, 2010      

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Austrlaian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Monday more than 400 Australians are believed to have been in Chile when Saturday's massive 8.8-magnitude quake struck.

Smith told Sky News on Monday that while there were no reports of any Australians having been injured, the lack of communications infrastructure was making it difficult to make contact with Australians in the disaster zone.

"To date, despite the fact we now have got a death tally of over 700 we don't have any evidence that any Australians have been caught up in it," Smith said.

"But I hastened to add that it is early days and communications and getting in touch with people is a substantial problem."

Smith said the death toll was expected to rise. "The scale of the disaster is enormous and that's why we've indicated to Chile that we stand ready, willing and able to assist," he said.

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