Officials say death toll from February 27 quake is likely to increase as crews recover bodies under piles of rubble
Chilean rescue crews are continuing to search for survivors, four days after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake devastated parts of the country and killed nearly 800 people.
Officials said Wednesday the death toll from the February 27 quake is likely to increase as crews recover bodies under piles of rubble.
As the recovery effort continues, Chilean troops are working to stop the looting and violence that brought chaos to cities like Concepcion. Many stores have been ransacked and some have been set ablaze.
An 18-hour curfew remains in place in Concepcion, the country's second largest city, and military personnel are on patrol to make sure food and water are distributed properly.
Concepcion was the city closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. Some residents are taking steps to ensure their own security, setting up roadblocks to keep track of everyone entering their neighborhoods.
Military helicopters carrying relief supplies landed Tuesday in the coastal town of Constitucion. Authorities also set up a makeshift morgue in a gymnasium, where bodies lay on the floor for identification and the names of the dead were posted outside. At least 250 people are believed missing in Constitucion.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has said looting and lawlessness will not be tolerated. She has instructed troops to act with what she called the "severity" necessary to prevent crime.
Ms. Bachelet said more than 2 million buildings, including 500,000 homes, were damaged in the quake and that it is impossible to know at this time what can be rebuilt.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Chile Tuesday, said the U.S. is ready to help any way it can. Clinton brought 25 satellite phones with her as an initial U.S. contribution.
The Chilean president has described the earthquake as an emergency "unparalleled in the history of Chile." The quake that struck Saturday is among the top eight strongest earthquakes ever measured.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.