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Chile's President Visits Earthquake-Ravaged Area as Aftershocks Continue


Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has toured northern towns hit by a major earthquake that killed two people, injured more than 100 and left thousands without homes.

Major aftershocks hit the region again Thursday, as President Bachelet sought to reassure distraught citizens in the port city of Tocopilla on the Pacific Coast. She promised the government will provide financial aid to help rebuild damaged houses and infrastructure.

Tocopilla and the nearby mining town of Maria Elena were hardest hit in Wednesday's 7.7 magnitude earthquake. Several thousand homes were damaged or destroyed, leaving 15,000 displaced people.

Water, power and telephone lines to the area remain cut and cellphone service is reported to be overloaded.

Today's aftershocks included one of 6.8 magnitude and another of 6.2. The damage from those has not been assessed yet.

The government is erecting temporary hospital and emergency shelters, and rescue teams are delivering water, food and medicine to the victims.

Government spokesman, Ricardo Lagos Weber said today that the two towns will be declared disaster areas to expedite aid delivery.

The quake was felt as far away as the Chilean capital, Santiago, and neighboring Peru and Bolivia.

Separate earthquakes rattled Argentina and Central America.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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