Damage from the earthquake in Santiago, Chile.
Latin America: Week in Review

Earthquake Measuring 8.8 Hits Chile; More Than 700 Deaths

March 1, 2010 By Staff

Damage from the earthquake in Santiago, Chile.

Basílica del Salvador in Santiago, Chile, one day after the Feb. 27 earthquake

Today in Latin America

Top Story — An 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Chile this weekend 70 miles from the city of Concepción, the country’s second largest metropolitan area.

The earthquake, the fifth-largest recorded since 1900, destroyed buildings and roadways as well as cut off many lines of communication from the country. The death toll rose to over 700 Sunday and more deaths are expected as rescue operations continue.

President Michelle Bachelet called the earthquake “one of the worst tragedies in the last 50 years” and declared that Chile was in a “state of catastrophe.”

A strong aftershock hit Chile Sunday morning and was felt in the capital of Santiago.

Local news agencies report that 1.5 million people will be displaced due to the earthquake.

International aid groups and many foreign countries pledged assistance to Chile, however the recovery process is thought to not be as severe as that in Haiti due Chile’s infrastructure and history with earthquakes.

Chile experienced the largest earthquake ever recorded in 1960 and prompted the country to form an emergency committee to deal with these natural disasters.

Global Voices Online has compiled videos of the earthquake made by Chileans and The New York Times has published a slide show.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America


  • Roughly 5,000 Cuban exiles and other Latins attended a symbolic funeral for Orlando Zapata Tamayo in Miami, a Cuban dissident who died last week after an 83-day hunger strike. (Spanish)
  • As Haiti rebuilds, the country confronts the problem of disposing of the waste produced by the Jan. 12 earthquake’s destruction.

Central America


  • Colombia’s Constitutional Court rejected a referendum on Friday calling for a vote to allow President Uribe to seek a third consecutive term. Former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos announced his candidacy the same day.
  • Deportivo Quito, champions of the Ecuadorean Football Federation, had their suspension lifted after paying off the team’s debt of $207,517.
  • Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori attended his daughters wedding in a prison chapel. Fujimori is currently serving a 25-year sentence for crimes, including kidnappings and homicides, committed during his 1990-2000 presidency.

Southern Cone

  • Left-wing Uruguayan President-elect José Mujica is expected to push for closer ties with the United States. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton arrives in Uruguay today to attend Mujica’s inauguration.
  • Secretary of State Hilary Clinton decided on Sunday to add a stop in Argentina to the itinerary of her five-day tour through Latin America.
  • William Burns of the U.S. State Department arrived in Brazil on Friday to begin Hilary Clinton’s push to gain Brazil’s support for sanctions against Iran. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva maintains friendly relations with Iran and is not expected to support sanctions.

Image: Luis Iturra @ Flickr.

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