Chile quake will be ‘felt’ for years

Chile’s reconstruction will take
“three to four years” as the country recovers from the earthquake
that killed some 800 people, its president has said.

“There are rural areas where
everything has tumbled to the ground… infrastructure has been destroyed,”
Michelle Bachelet told Chilean radio.

It would take international aid and
most of the next government’s mandate to rebuild, Ms Bachelet added.

President-elect Sebastian Pinera is
set to take over from her next week.

The cost of the damage, which Ms
Bachelet described as “enormous”, has so far been estimated at
between $15 billion and $30 billion.

“Chile has the resources for a
number of actions, but we will have to ask for credit from the World Bank and
other entities,” Ms Bachelet said.

Mr Pinera said his government would
be one of reconstruction, with a plan of four clear stages – “to cope with
the emergency needs of citizens, find people who are still missing, provide
prompt and timely assistance to the sick and wounded, and restore law and order
so that people can return to peace”.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is
to visit Chile today to assess the damage and meet Ms Bachelet and Mr Pinera.

On Wednesday, strong aftershocks of
magnitude 5.5 and higher were felt in several cities, including Santiago, and
prompted tsunami warnings, which were later lifted.

An 18-hour nightly curfew remains
in place in Concepcion, Chile’s second largest city, and six other towns badly
affected by the earthquake.

Officials say 799 people are
confirmed to have died, but there are reports of many people still missing in
the coastal town of Constitucion.

About two million Chileans are
believed to have been affected by Saturday’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake, the
seventh most powerful on record and the worst disaster to befall Chile in 50
years.

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