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Quake Damage to Chile Capital Worse Than Originally Thought


The mayor of Chile's capital, Santiago, says damage to the city from last month's powerful earthquake was greater than originally believed.

In comments to reporters Wednesday, Santiago Mayor Fernando Echeverria said the February 27 earthquake damaged 30,000 homes in the city, destroying 5,000 of them. He said about 181 schools were badly damaged and at least one hospital was forced to close.

The mayor said he signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chilean Chamber of Construction to collaborate on the reconstruction of the capital. He said the plan calls for a team of about 40 experts to evaluate which communities in the Santiago area need the most assistance.

It has been estimated that Chile's reconstruction costs could be as much as $30 billion.

Last week, Chile's government considered tapping into the country's copper savings and issuing bonds to fund reconstruction efforts.

Chile is the world's largest copper supplier and has benefitted from the rising price of the commodity in recent years. It is not clear how much money may be tapped from the savings account to pay for rebuilding.

President Sebastian Pinera met with his Cabinet ministers Friday to discuss new emergency relief and reconstruction legislation to be introduced in Congress. Mr. Pinera said the emergency bill will contain language for vouchers worth roughly $80 each for about 4.2 million quake survivors in urgent need.

Nationwide, the 8.8 earthquake is believed to have damaged an estimated 2 million buildings, including 500,000 homes.

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

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