Aftershocks Rumble Through Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 4 (UPI) — Aftershocks rocked Chile Thursday but aid was reaching areas ravaged by the 8.8-magnitude earthquake during the weekend, officials said.

A 6.1-magnitude aftershock hit near Valparaiso, raising fears buildings already unstable from Saturday’s earthquake could collapse, CNN reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey said more than 120 aftershocks of at least a 5-magnitude have hit Chile since the earthquake struck.

The death toll rose to 802 Wednesday, with nearly 600 of those in the Maule region, Chile’s National Emergency Office said.

Aid was reaching some of the harder-hit areas Wednesday, but some residents said they hadn’t received food or water, officials said.

Security forces were moving into quake-damaged areas as well to stop looting, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said, urging calm and saying lawlessness would not be tolerated. About 13,000 soldiers had been sent to Concepcion and other cities to maintain order.

“Nobody can argue that taking a refrigerator is an act of survival,” Bachelet said. “That is simply vandalism and delinquency.”

In cities digging out from the earthquake’s destruction, military and federal police enforced nighttime curfews and guarded stores to prevent robberies. Residents did the same, The New York Times reported.

In Los Angeles, for example, neighbors erect barriers and guarded their homes with makeshift weapons against robbers they said were taking advantage of the chaos.

“We’re trying to take care of the little we have here,” Ana Beroiz, 34, told the Times.

The presence of gun-toting soldiers has been a difficult sight for Chileans who lived through the military rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, several people told the Times. Bachelet and her parents were imprisoned and tortured during Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Beroiz said this was the first time that children had seen the military in action, and “as parents, that makes us nervous.”

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Categorized | Buildings, Earthquakes, Military
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