SANTIAGO, Chile, Feb. 28 (UPI) — The massive earthquake in Chile has killed at least 300 people, displaced 1.5 million and turned buildings, bridges and roads to rubble, emergency workers say.
The death toll from Saturday’s 8.8-magnitude quake was expected to rise, especially around Concepcion, which is Chile’s second-biggest city and about 70 miles from the quake’s center.
President Michelle Bachelet called the quake “one of the worst tragedies in the last 50 years” in declaring Chile a “state of catastrophe” Saturday night.
Dozens of aftershocks were reported and the quake unleashed tsunami waves throughout the Pacific basin. Early waves swept coastal islands, including Robinson Crusoe, killing several people and depositing fishing boats inland.
In Concepcion, dozens of people were trapped in a flattened 14-story apartment building. A biochemical lab at the University of Concepcion caught fire and cars lay smashed and upended on streets littered with utility cables, The New York Times reported Sunday.
In Santiago, about 200 miles from the quake’s center, about 600 travelers escaped from the terminal at the main airport when much of the roof collapsed. The runways were intact but the airport was closed because of the internal damage, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
In Talca, about 160 miles south of Santiago, 11 of the local hospital’s 13 wings were destroyed and many homes severely damaged.
In Chillan, 70 miles from Concepcion, 300 inmates escaped through a fallen prison wall and incited a riot. More than 200 had yet to be captured as of late Saturday.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.