Rachel Wolff 253.394.2214
March 2, 2010, Concepcion, Chile — Whole towns are “completely destroyed” or have “totally disappeared” following Saturday’s deadly 8.8 earthquake in Chile, reports World Vision, following assessments of the humanitarian needs in small towns and outlying areas. World Vision is working to distribute relief items to 25,000 survivors, but faces logistical challenges as roads remain impassable.
Assessment teams report that many people continue to live on the streets and in tents. In coastal cities, tsunamis have sent many people into the hills and away from their towns. Aftershocks continue to threaten structures and fray nerves. And supplies are low nearly everywhere.
After being struck by three tsunami waves, the city of Coliumo, 70 miles from Concepcion, has “totally disappeared,” reported assessment team member Paula Saez.
Saez, a Chilean national, recently returned from Haiti, where she served in the early stages of World Vision’s relief response to the January 12 earthquake there.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Saez, arriving in Dichato, a tourist and fishing town 40 miles north of Concepcion. “This town was completely destroyed. A tsunami hit here after the quake, and there are boats sitting in the middle of the city. The earthquake damaged some things, but the sea took everything away. You can see chairs, tables, even a house floating in the sea.”
In Dichato, World Vision staff report that the injured have not received medical help because access has been cut off. Food, clean water and medical supplies are virtually depleted.
In Coronel, 20 miles south of Concepcion, World Vision staff estimate that food supplies will last one more week.
In Lota, some 25 miles south of Concepcion, residents have access to clean water for only one hour a day.
Teams will continue to conduct assessments of more small towns while relief teams work to bring supplies, particularly food and water, to underserved communities. Damaged roads into these cities make access impossible except via helicopter or small plane, so logistics continue to pose challenges to relief teams.
World Vision is working to bring relief supplies to 25,000 survivors in Lota and Coronel and to additional families in Dichato. The agency has already distributed water in Telmuco and is working to bring in additional supplies from Santiago and from its relief warehouse in La Paz, Bolivia.
World Vision has been working in Chile for some 30 years and has more than 100 staff on the ground before the quake hit, many of whom lived and worked in areas close to the quake epicenter. The agency has worked extensively in the south of Concepcion as well as in the capital of Santiago. Staff began distributing blankets and water containers nearly immediately following the quake.
Donations to World Vision’s Chile Quake Response can be made by calling 888-56-CHILD, at www.worldvision.org, or by texting the word “CHILE” to 20222.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.