Chile's president says death toll could increase

10:32, March 04, 2010      

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The number of deaths from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile and ensuing Tsunami could exceed the 800 now counted, President Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday.

The president told a local radio 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 National Office of Emergency, the number of affected still stood at 2 million.

Most of the deaths were registered in the Maule region with at least 554 people died. In the capital city of Santiago, which has a population of 6.2 million, 38 people were known to have died in the earthquake.

Meanwhile, rescuers on Tuesday pulled out 79 survivors from the debris of a collapsed building in earthquake-stricken Concepcion, one of the hardest-hit cities in the quake.

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged towns and cities along a 700-km stretch of Chile's Pacific coast. Downed bridges and damaged or debris-strewn highways made transit difficult if not impossible in many areas.

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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