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Chilean President: Looting, Lawlessness Will Not be Tolerated

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet says more than two million buildings, including 500,000 homes, were damaged in Saturday's devastating earthquake.

President Bachelet told reporters Tuesday it is impossible to know at this time which buildings can be rebuilt and which should be leveled. The president spoke at a joint appearance with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in the capital, Santiago, for a brief visit.

Ms. Bachelet also said she did not have an exact death toll from the earthquake, but is receiving updates every two-to-three hours. The death toll currently stands at about 720.

Secretary Clinton said the U.S. is ready to help Chile any way it can. She brought with her emergency communications equipment and technical support.

Earlier Tuesday, President Bachelet told reporters that looting and lawlessness will not be tolerated. She has instructed troops to act with what she called the "severity" necessary to prevent crime.

The president has sent at least 10,000 soldiers to cities affected by the earthquake to restore order.

Authorities in Concepcion - Chile's second-most populous city - instituted a curfew from late Monday to midday Tuesday, in an effort to curb the widespread looting that has been reported following the earthquake.

Many businesses have been ransacked and burned by desperate residents seeking basic supplies such as food and water.
National television in Chile showed troops delivering the first aid to Concepcion early Tuesday.

Concepcion was the closest city to the center of the massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake. The United Nations said Chile needs mobile bridges, field hospitals, dialysis equipment and other medical supplies, as well as food and shelter materials.

President Bachelet said supermarkets will distribute food free of charge. Her government also is working to deliver food, water and emergency shelters as quickly as possible to thousands of people living on the streets.

The president said the earthquake is an emergency "unparalleled in the history of Chile." The Andean nation on the western coast of South America is in a seismically active area. It was hit 50 years ago by the strongest earthquake recorded in modern history - a magnitude 9.5. The quake that struck Saturday is among the top eight strongest earthquakes ever measured.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said an emergency medical mission has been sent to Chile. He promised up to $3 million in an emergency grant for recovery efforts.

China's state news agency says authorities in Beijing are offering $1 million in humanitarian assistance.

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