Chaos erupts in quake-hit Chilean regions (2)

13:18, March 01, 2010      

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Curfew was imposed in Concepcion on Sunday, and troops have been dispatched to areas around Concepcion to preserve order.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet promised distribution of foods and other material for citizens. Officials from the state emergency center said the operation of assistance has started and some relief material have been sent to tsunami-hit regions.

Due to continuous strong aftershocks and the absence of rescue efforts, some regions in southern Chile have plunged into turmoil. More than 200 prisoners escaped from a prison 350 km south of the capital.

In other most affected regions -- Maule, Bio Bio and Araucania, basic services have also been paralyzed since the earthquake, throwing people into deep anguish. They call on the government to restore the services as soon as possible.

To maintain social order, President Bachelet declared on Sunday a 30-day state of emergency in Maule and Bio Bio.

The president said the death toll has reached 708 and is likely to increase as rescue goes on.

At a news conference, the president said the country was facing "a catastrophe of such unthinkable magnitude" and would need enormous efforts to recover.

Bachelet said the largest death toll of 541 people was in the region Maule, 64 in Bio Bio, and the other 103 deaths were registered in other affected areas.

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