SANTIAGO, Chile, March 6 (UPI) — The Chilean government didn’t pass on a tsunami warning after the massive earthquake hit the country, perhaps costing hundreds of lives, local officials said.
Eleven minutes after the magnitude 8.8 quake hit Feb. 27, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii sent word of the huge wave targeting central Chile, but the message was never passed on to the public, The Miami Herald reported Saturday.
The Herald quoted Miguel Rivera, a city councilman in the coastal town of Hualpen, just north of Concepcion, as saying, “People are dead as a result of the government’s mistakes. Sending out the word in time would have saved a lot of lives.”
Appearing on TV Chile, Chilean Navy Adm. Edmundo Gonzalez was asked whether the navy, which received the warning, was responsible for hundreds of deaths. “We share that responsibility,” he said, adding the navy was “not very clear” in describing the threat to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, the Herald reported.
Bachelet said Gonzalez’s statement “very manly,” but it was not the time for finger-pointing, the report said. The earthquake and tsunami killed more than 800 people.
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.