Southern, central Chile hit hard by massive quake (2)

16:58, March 01, 2010      

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Residents walk down a street covered with debris from a major earthquake in Talca February 28, 2010.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Sandra Roxas, a woman in her 50s, lives with her family members in a makeshift camp in the city.

Roxas told Xinhua that the biggest concern for her family is food and water and her family has no bread to eat.

Nikkel Roxas, a little girl, said: "We need help. We can not afford daily necessities as the prices are soaring."

Only a few supermarkets are still open in Talca and people have to stand in long lines waiting to purchase daily food and water.

Power supply has resumed partly in some areas of south-central Chile. Gas stations along the speedway have resumed services and a large number of vehicles are queuing for refueling.

Meanwhile, a lot of buildings in the city of Concepcion, 115 km away from the epicenter, have collapsed and the downtown has been virtually razed to the ground -- a scene Xinhua reporter saw upon arriving here on Sunday after a ten-hour drive from Santiago.

"All buildings in the city are empty because no one dare spend the night inside," said Zhang Hui, an employee at a local company.

"Though there have been no serious aftershocks in the city since Saturday night, a lot of people abandoned their homes and chose to gather in the city square and other open air areas to spend the night," he said.

Gripped by fears that more tremors would follow, some people have even moved to the nearby hilltops, he added.

Extreme lack of living necessities has also spurred shop lootings and robberies in the city. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse looters in a supermarket.

In addition to policemen, there're also heavily-armed troops patrolling the streets.

The massive earthquake struck off Chile's Maule region early Saturday morning and jolted many cities in central and southern regions of the country.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said on Sunday that the death toll from the quake had reached 708 and was likely to increase as rescue went on.

Chile's national emergency office said Region VII and Region VIII are the hardest-hit areas in the quake. Concepcion, capital of Region VIII and the second-largest city of the country, was the hardest hit.
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