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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Chile quake increases suffering
Snowbound Chilean mountain pass
The quake follows devastating storms in Chile
The misery of 60,000 people driven from their homes by storms in Chile has been compounded by an earthquake.

The quake, registering 6.0 on the Richter scale occurred just days after much of Santiago was flooded following the worst storms for 20 years.

It is believed to have originated in the Andes foothills, 64km (40 miles) south east of the capital Santiago.


map of Chile earthquake
Power cuts were recorded in areas of the capital, and the Chilean telephone network was also disrupted, hampering the flood relief effort.

But aside from causing widespread alarm, there were no immediate reports of damage or deaths.

Damage

Storms across Chile in the last few weeks have left 72,400 people with property damage and 4,311 in shelters nationwide, many in Santiago where several areas are still under water.

The pacific port of Valparaiso has also been hit by flooding and landslides.

Mudslide
The storms also triggered dangerous mudslides

President Ricardo Lagos delayed a flight to Colombia for a regional summit and surveyed inundated farm fields and slum neighbourhoods by helicopter, ordering the armed forces to help.

"The army has spread out to the affected neighbourhoods, and is working at the task of removing the mud," he said.

While tens of thousands of Chileans remained displaced for a second day, many others began returning home as floodwaters receded.

Health authorities have warned of a possible outbreak of influenza and other respiratory diseases, saying a combination of cold weather and flooded homes made the elderly and young particularly vulnerable.

Snowfalls

In the capital, the storm cleared the usually polluted air, allowing sparkling clear views of the snow-capped Andes mountains.

Santiago smog
The storms did alleviate Santiago's smog problem

At higher altitudes the storms brought heavy snowfalls.

Although the border with Argentina was closed, with some 300 trucks stranded in drifts, ski resort owners rejoiced at the prospect of a surge in customers.

Army trucks have been enlisted to move homeless families, and authorities have appealed for donations of roofing materials, bedding, clothing, canned foods and disinfectants to clean schools inundated by backed up sewage.

Maria Iturra was among the storm victims who pleaded for government assistance.

"Our mayor must help us, it is his obligation," said Mrs Iturra, who said her modest home was already in bad shape from past rains.

The government has opened a bank account for donations.

Santiago, and Valparaiso have been declared disaster zones, making them eligible for $2 million in government aid.

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15 Jun 00 | Americas
Chile fears further floods
05 Jan 00 | Americas
Brazil floods kill 26
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