Chilean quake death toll rises to 723

08:13, March 02, 2010      

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People walk on a street in the earthquake-and-tsunami-devastated Dichato town, some 30 kilometers north of Concepcion, Chile, March 1, 2010. The death toll from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile early Saturday has reached 723, the Chilean government said on Monday. More than 500 people were injured and at least 19 people are still unaccounted for, the National Emergency Office (Onemi) said. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)


The death toll from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile early Saturday has reached 723, the Chilean government said on Monday

More than 500 people were injured and at least 19 people are still unaccounted for, said the National Emergency Office (Onemi).

It said most of the deaths were reported in Maule region, where there were 544 deaths.

There were 64 deaths and 38 deaths in Bio Bio region and the capital city of Santiago, respectively, it added.


People search for things among debris in earthquake-and-tsunami-devastated Dichato town, some 30 kilometers north of Concepcion, Chile, March 1, 2010. The death toll from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile early Saturday has reached 723, the Chilean government said on Monday. More than 500 people were injured and at least 19 people are still unaccounted for, the National Emergency Office (Onemi) said. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)


Both Maule and Bio Bio regions have been declared catastrophe zones and are under the administration of civilian and military authorities.

A powerful tsunami triggered by quake devastated coastal towns of the affected regions, leaving an undetermined number of missing people.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said on Sunday night that the catastrophe is "enormous" and the death toll will continue to grow.


Women look for their relatives in earthquake-and-tsunami-devastated Dichato town, some 30 kilometers north of Concepcion, Chile, March 1, 2010. The death toll from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile early Saturday has reached 723, the Chilean government said on Monday. More than 500 people were injured and at least 19 people are still unaccounted for, the National Emergency Office (Onemi) said. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)


She said that the police, legal and medical authorities will recover and identify dead bodies "to give the relatives the necessary information."

The Onemi also said that in the most affected southern regions, authorities began to deliver food and equipment for power generation.

In the hard-hit towns of Curcio, Talca and Concepcion, temporary hospitals have been set up to replace those damaged by the earthquake, it added.

Areas near the epicenter of the earthquake, which is off the coast of the Maule region, power supply and telecommunication are still down while drinking water and food are scarce.

The Chilean Health Ministry has launched a blood-donation campaign for quake victims, while urging people to stay home and not to go to aid supply distribution places except in case of need.

The government also announced that it will start delivering aid to people in affected areas on Monday and maintain social order there in response to a series of looting incidents.


A truck travels on a damaged road in earthquake-and-tsunami-devastated Dichato town, some 30 kilometers north of Concepcion, Chile, March 1, 2010. The death toll from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile early Saturday has reached 723, the Chilean government said on Monday. More than 500 people were injured and at least 19 people are still unaccounted for, the National Emergency Office (Onemi) said. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)


The first shipment of aid was already on its way to those areas from Santiago.

Roads linking the capital and southern regions will be reopened on Monday, too. Outbound international flights will return to normalcy as early as Friday.

The Santiago airport was damaged in the quake but its runways and the control center is still operating.

Although there were several arrivals of international flights after the quake, international carriers have not been permitted to reopen routes to Chile.
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