British foreign secretary sends sympathy to quake-hit Chile

11:31, February 28, 2010      

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British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Saturday sent deepest sympathy to all those affected by the second earthquake to hit the Americas in 2010.

A powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Chile on Saturday and has also triggered a widespread tsunami alert for Pacific basin countries.

Speaking about the earthquake, Miliband said, "I am shocked and saddened by the news of the earthquake in Chile, the second serious earthquake to affect the Americas this year. I send my deepest sympathy to all those affected."

"Our ambassador to Chile, his team in Santiago and the Honorary Consul network across the country are working hard to locate and contact British nationals, despite significant communications difficulties. As yet, we have no information of any British casualties, " he said. "Additional staff from our embassy in Buenos Aires are en route to Santiago to reinforce our efforts."

Miliband said Britain will work with the Chilean government and other international partners to respond to what Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has described as a catastrophe.

British Prime Minster Gordon Brown also said Britain would do whatever it could to help.

Specialist teams from British charities are being sent to Chile after the massive earthquake in the South American country left at least 214 people dead.

Matt Wingate, emergencies adviser for the charity, said: "It's a challenging situation to have two in the same region so quickly one after another."

The British Foreign Ministry has updated its travel advice to Chile, and following the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a widespread tsunami warning.

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