Chaos erupts in quake-hit Chilean regions

13:17, March 01, 2010      

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Thirty hours after the 8.8-magnitude megaquake hit Concepcion, the second largest Chilean city, local people embraced the law of jungle to search for food and satisfy other basic needs.

They spent the past 30 hours without light, water and food.

The downtown of Concepcion, a city of 670,000 people located 115 km from the epicenter of the quake, was completely destroyed in the earthquake.

Some citizens gathered on squares, and others set up temporary tents beside rubble. Most citizens seemed depressed as all public services fell into stagnation and no timely assistance was in sight.

On Sunday, they smashed open some of the biggest supermarkets in the city.

The police tried to stop the plunder with tear gas, but failed to control the situation.

"We are ready to pay, but they refused to sell anything to us," some people told reporters.

"This is out of desperation, because we have neither foods nor water," a woman in her 30s shouted from a looted supermarket.

Carrying two boxes of milk, a woman told a local TV channel that she was looking for food for her children. "We do not have anything, it is the need," she said.

Concepcion mayor Jacqueline Van Rysselberghe appealed to the government to send security forces "to restore the order." He said the situation was getting "out of control" due to shortages of basic supplies.

"We need marines and militaries in the streets, because there is chaos. It is terrible. They are razing the supermarkets, fighting like animals for food," Rysselberghe told local radio station Radio Cooperativa.

The mayor said his city is anxiously waiting for aid from the outside world.

"If citizens' basic needs could not be met ... we would face severe security challenges," Rysselberghe said.


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