U.N. ready to offer rapid aid to earthquake-stricken Chile

11:34, February 28, 2010      

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday expressed condolences for the victims of the devastating Chilean earthquake and said his organization was ready to provide immediate assistance.

A statement issued by Ban's spokesman said the UN "is on standby to offer rapid assistance to the Chilean government and people."

"The secretary-general is very closely monitoring developments, including the risk of Pacific Rim tsunamis, after the huge earthquake in Chile," the statement said.

The statement said Ban was also seeking to contact the U.N.'s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is based in Santiago, for an assessment of the earthquake and information on U.N. staff.

The 8.8 magnitude quake struck central Chile at 0634 GMT about 115 kilometers northeast of the city of Concepcion and 325 kilometers southwest of Santiago, killing at least 82 people, reports said.

The earthquake was the biggest to hit Chile in 50 years.

Tsunami warnings have been issued for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Central America and numerous Pacific island nations as a result of the earthquake.

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