Chile's quake death toll rises to 799

08:30, March 04, 2010      

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The death toll from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile early Saturday has reached 799, the Chilean National Emergency Office (Onemi) said on Wednesday.

The Onemi said there were 587 deaths in Maule region, 92 deaths in Bio Bio region, 48 in Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins region, 38 in Santiago Metropolitan region, 20 in Valparaiso region and 14 in La Araucania region.

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

President Michelle Bachelet said earlier on Wednesday that more people could have died in the quake and the quake-triggered tsunami waves and the death toll is expected to rise in coming days.

Bachelet's words confirmed some local reports saying that the death toll could further go up due to the underestimated deaths in one of the hardest-hit cities of Constitucion. Some earlier reports put the number of missing as high as 500 in Constitucion alone.

According to the Onemi, the number of affected still stood at 2 million.

Quake-caused damage to Chile are so far estimated to be up to 30 billion U.S. dollars, or a fifth of the country's gross domestic product.

Source: Xinhua
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