Chilean President: Looting, Lawlessness Will Not be Tolerated

Earlier Tuesday, President Bachelet told reporters that looting and lawlessness will not be tolerated.  She has instructed troops to act with what she called the “severity” necessary to prevent crime.

President Bachelet – VOA News

Hillary Clinton: “The Chilean people have shown enormous courage”

“The devastating earthquake has caused so much damage throughout the Chilean territory. We must remember that it was an earthquake with a force 800 times greater than that razed Hatití. You (Bachelet) has demonstrated great leadership, it has also its government, and surely we must pay tribute to the strength of the Chilean people has shown enormous courage in this situation.”

Secretary of State  Hillary Clinton

‘The sea was 30 metres high. Everybody ran’

London Times – Dom Phillips, Constitución

When the earthquake struck the dirt-poor coastal town of Constitución, José Carrasco was sleeping in the cab of his truck by the beach.

“It was really strong, shaking,” he said. Forty-five minutes later he saw the first tsunami wave coming towards him. “The sea came and covered everything. It was 30 metres high. There were two waves. When we saw the sea coming in, everybody ran. I climbed up the hill.”

The smell of death hung yesterday over this fishing town, battered not just by the earthquake but by the tsunami that came in its wake and claimed hundreds of lives. Much of it lay in ruins. Debris from the waves covered the beach and the tiny port. Mr Carrasco’s blue truck was a tangle of bent metal, surrounded by the remains of battered cars, their windows shattered.

A yellow food stall was stuck on top of the shell of a van on a pile of broken timber. Electricity pylons were wrapped around giant palm trees torn from their roots. Bulldozers had begun shoving the debris — piles of broken metal, bits of cars, trucks, railings, wood and palm fronds. Constitución now resembles a giant scrapyard.

Ronald Bosselaar, 47, was clutching a faded old photo of himself — showing a young man with two friends making music together. It is all he has left. “My house was completely destroyed. For two days I’ve been on the street, I haven’t eaten,” he said.

Further along the shore a 200-metre row of wooden houses, a small restaurant and a disco had been reduced to a pile of broken lumber. Lampposts had been snapped off their base and tossed aside by the waves. A mattress was draped over a branch ten metres up a tree. On a hill a Chilean flag hung mournfully above the remains of a concrete building.

Carolina Olivares, 21, showed how the waves shattered windows in the concrete-floored house she shares with her family, 30 metres above the sea. “It was terrible,” she said. “I saw the sea coming and I ran.” Houses have been reduced to rubble on every street in the town centre. People in dirty clothes wander aimlessly or loiter on corners, carrying their possessions in plastic bags or crates.

Soldiers were directing the traffic. At the police headquarters two looters were dragged in by officers. The atmosphere became tense.

The looters left sullenly as police shouted, shoved and searched their bags. “There was looting here on Saturday,” Alex Vergara, an officer, said. “We came and took people out. We arrested 12 looters.”

On the other side of the street a grille had been opened at the Mayorista supermarket, and even as one store was being cleared of looters, another was being sneakily invaded…

Chile and Haiti: A Tale of Two Earthquakes

TIME – By Tim Padgett

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile early on Feb. 27 was 500 times stronger than the 7.0 quake that killed an estimated 200,000 Haitians last month. And yet the number of casualties in Chile appears to be exponentially smaller, with the official death toll still in the hundreds. Far fewer people were rendered homeless than in Haiti, and much of the telephone service in Santiago and parts of central Chile had been restored within five hours.

Comparisons between the two countries will no doubt be much discussed when the U.N. hosts a conference in New York City on March 31 to hash out how best to help Haiti rebuild. Donor governments already know why there was so much less destruction in Chile: it’s because the government there forces builders to adhere to rigorous codes, while Haiti’s incorrigible corruption and carelessness left such regulation all but nonexistent.

On the global corruption index put out by Transparency International, a Berlin-based nonprofit that lists countries from the least to most corrupt, Chile ranks 25th and Haiti 168th. And while Chilean President Michelle Bachelet hit the streets on Saturday reassuring citizens about her government’s earthquake response, Haitian President René Préval has been seemingly AWOL for weeks.

Both Chile and Haiti sit atop large, volatile fault lines. In recent decades, Chile has mandated earthquake-proofing for new structures, requiring that materials like rubber and features like counterweights be built into the architectural designs to allow buildings to bend and sway rather than break during temblors.

Haiti, by contrast, lets its buildings rise with little if any input from engineers and plenty of bribes to so-called government inspectors. Structures have scant reinforcement and are often set on weak foundations. That’s why 13 of 15 federal ministry buildings pancaked in the Jan. 12 earthquake — and why, in 2008, 91 students and teachers died when their school in a Port-au-Prince suburb collapsed. The school’s owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after admitting he barely even used mortar to hold its concrete blocks together…


Alert Version: 7Saturday, February 27th, 2010 at 06:34:14
UTCLocation: 35.8° S, 72.7° W
Depth: 35km
Event Id: US2010TFAN
Created: 14 hours, 10 minutes after earthquake.
Shaking Intensity
Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. On May 22, 1960 (UTC), a magnitude 9.5 earthquake 273 km South of this one struck Valdivia, Chile, with estimated population exposures of 230,000 at intensity VIII and 216,000 at intensity IX , resulting in a reported 3263 deaths from the earthquake and tsunami. Recent earthquakes in this area have caused tsunamis, landslides, and liquefaction that may have contributed to losses.
Population Exposure
Population per ~1 sq. km. from LandScan

Exposure Summary

Estimated Population Exposed to Earthquake Shaking

Est. Modified Mercalli Intensity Est. Population Exposure Perceived Shaking Potential Structure Damage
Resistant Vulnerable
X 0 Extreme V. Heavy V. Heavy
IX 0 Violent Heavy V. Heavy
VIII 5,480k Severe Moderate/Heavy Heavy
VII 7,285k Very Strong Moderate Moderate/Heavy
VI 751k* Strong Light Moderate
V 2,721k* Moderate V. Light Light
IV 1,218k* Light none none
II-III 400* Weak none none
I –* Not Felt none none
*Estimated exposure only includes population within calculated shake map area

Selected Cities Exposed

MMI City Pop.
VIII Talcahuano 253k
VIII Arauco 25k
VIII Lota 50k
VIII Chiguayante 83k
VIII Canete 20k
VIII San Antonio 86k
VII Talca 197k
VII Concepcion 215k
VII Rancagua 213k
VII Santiago 4,837k
VII Temuco 238k

Hungry, angry Chileans set fire to shops

Looters pillaged shops, homes and even attacked a fire station in the burning Chilean city of Concepcion, as rescuers try to find quake survivors.

Police fired tear gas to try to disperse an angry crowd that set fire to the Bigger supermarket after they were prevented from entering.

Black smoke billowed out over the ruins of Concepcion, one of the cities worst hit by Saturday’s 8.8-magnitude quake, which has killed more than 720 people.

“It’s full, they have water, food, diapers, but the police won’t let us go inside,” complained one man standing next to the supermarket after a curfew was extended on Monday in a bid to stop theft and violence.

“It would be fine if they distributed things, or at least sold them to us,” grumbled Carmen Norin, 42.

The building’s roof collapsed in the fire, injuring a volunteer firefighter in the city of about 600,000, some 500km south of Santiago. One person who emerged screaming, covered in flames, was rescued by the firefighters.

Another store was also set ablaze while other groups climbed atop buses or looted abandoned houses.

“Here, people are even looting fire stations,” sighed Conception fire department chief Jaime Jara.

“We understand that people need to eat, but looting hospitals and clinics… How can we serve our people?” he said.

One person was shot and killed and at least 160 were arrested for violating the first curfew imposed in Chile since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990.

Hundreds of troops were deployed to Concepcion alongside police as part of President Michelle Bachelet’s deployment of 7,000 soldiers to the quake zone.

People raked through the ruins of supermarkets, taking everything they could find.

“If they have basic foods, milk, flour, water, diapers for babies, the order is to not arrest them,” said Carlos Huerino, a police inspector. “But if they have a television, they’ll arrest them.”

Bachelet declared a state of emergency on Sunday and Concepcion was placed under a curfew that was extended from 8pm on Monday until noon on Tuesday in a bid to restore order.

“Where they looted yesterday, there is nothing left. They took everything in the supermarkets and the pharmacies,” said a 55-year-old cashier who declined to give her name.

At a dairy market, a man threw containers of milk from a balcony to people below while others made off with sacks of flour.

But the crowd scattered as a truck mounted with a water cannon pulled up along with an armoured car and two buses carrying some 30 police in riot gear and brandishing truncheons.

The first troops to arrive were generally welcomed by residents desperate for a return to normalcy.

Amid the looting, rescue teams on Monday night focused on the disaster area around a 14-storey Concepcion apartment building that crumpled to the ground in the quake.

With other residents still trapped, a father emerged alive from the rubble of the building with his wife and two children and told of the “indescribable” feeling of falling six floors and escaping unscathed.

“We just had our children in our arms and we fell. It’s indescribable. I said ‘God, help us!'” said Alex Tapia, an Ecuadoran sailor renting an apartment with his wife Rosa Maria.

After the shaking stopped, the family were buried in the dark. They clawed a tiny hole in a wall and Tapia shepherded his family through the mangled apartment basement to a larger opening and to freedom.

Related Links:

WSJ: How Milton Friedman Saved Chile

VOA News: Chile Battles Lawlessness, Desperation After Massive Earthquake

Breitbart: Tsunami swept away fleeing bus full of retirees

Daily Mail (UK): Pictured: Body of looter left dying by side of the road after being hit by car in aftermath of Chile earthquake

WSJ: Strong Aftershocks Hit Chile