SANTIAGO, Chile, Feb. 28 (UPI) — The death toll from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile has risen to more than 700, President Michelle Bachelet said Sunday,
About 2 million people were hurt or without homes, and chaos reigned in some of the worst-hit areas, the Los Angeles Times said in a report from Bogota, Colombia. Power and telecommunications systems were disrupted, a condition that made search and rescue operations more difficult, The New York Times reported.
A spray of about 30 aftershocks hit the country Sunday, including one that registered 6.1, the National Office of Emergency said.
Bachelet said the death toll jumped to 708 Sunday as crews reached outlying areas, but untold numbers were missing following one of the worst earthquakes on record this century. She said Chilean military personnel will distribute basic necessities to affected areas.
Tsunami warnings were lifted Sunday, with waves not reaching expected heights across the Pacific, including the shores of Japan, Hawaii and Southern California.
The Los Angeles Times report said looting broke out Sunday in some of the most heavily damages areas, and crowds overran supermarkets in the port city of Concepcion. The crowds made off with food, water and diapers — but also television sets. Several banks were looted, the report said.
Police sprayed looters with water cannons from armored vehicles, the Times reported, and arrested several people.
Bachelet held an emergency meeting of her Cabinet Sunday, then said she would send army troops into the Concepcion area, about 70 miles south of the quake’s offshore epicenter. The troops would restore order and assist in recovering bodies and searching for survivors.
In the coastal town of Constitucion alone, 350 people were killed, state television reported.
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.
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.
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