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Rescuers Help Survivors in Quake-Hit Chile

  • Nico Colombant

More than 300 people are reported killed in Chile after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit the center of the South American nation early Saturday, causing considerable destruction as well, and creating tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean.

Rescuers worked frantically for hours on end to help survivors of the massive quake which was centered about 100 kilometers from the city of Concepcion but caused damage and many deaths in several parts of Chile.

Buildings and bridges collapsed, fires broke out, cars were overturned, heaps of rubble were commonplace, and hospitals were accepting those who barely escaped alive.

One woman said it was terrible. She said she thought she was not scared of earthquakes but then, she says, it looked like everything was going to collapse.

Hundreds were made homeless, and many tried to salvage what they could of their possessions.

Chile experiences many earthquakes, but the early Saturday natural disaster was one of its most severe. Experts said it was better equipped to deal with this earthquake, which was much stronger than the one that devastated Haiti last month.

In Washington, President Obama expressed fears about the death toll.

"Early indications are that hundreds of lives have been lost in Chile and the damage is severe," said President Obama. "On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the Chilean people. The United States stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts."

Sirens went off in Hawaii alerting residents to take precautions. Similar warnings were made across the Pacific region, from small island nations to Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

At the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, scientists monitored incoming data, and tried to predict what might happen.

A tsunami is a series of huge water waves which can be caused by an earthquake. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami, which was caused by an undersea earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, killed over 200,000 people.

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