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Witnesses: Chile earthquake, aftershocks and aftermath

People queue at a petrol station in Concepcion, Chile
Queueing for petrol in Concepcion. Some petrol stations have been attacked.

Readers' accounts of the earthquake in Chile on 27 February - and its aftermath - are still pouring into the BBC.


Looting began in Concepcion on Sunday morning and the city became dangerous, so we decided to go to our parents in Los Angeles, Chile, a two-hour drive away. The problem was finding fuel. Petrol stations had no electricity so couldn't pump. Some of them had been attacked by the mob, so the owners refused to use the emergency systems to provide fuel.

We heard traumatic stories from policemen who had been in a gun battle, trying to control the mob

The few petrol stations that were operating were giving priority to emergency vehicles. In a city called Lota - 50 km away from Concepcion - an angry mob had burned down a petrol station when they were denied fuel. We managed to fill up our tanks because my sister's boyfriend works in the city council.

In the petrol station we heard traumatic stories from policemen who had been in a gun battle the previous night trying to control the mob. As we were leaving the city we saw people queuing for water, supplies and fuel. We also saw people looting stores and supermarkets, walking away with TV sets and refrigerators.

The roads were OK, apart from a few cracks. Now, on Monday, Los Angeles is getting back to normal, but Concepcion is a different story.
Ricardo Leon, Concepcion, Chile

Lota has a population of 45,000 people and is 30 km south of Concepción. Nobody has said anything about my town. We have no food, electricity, or water - nothing. Looters have taken over the town and people have been shot and killed. There is no order. Local media says nothing about this place. There are a number of other towns in similar situations south of Concepcion, such as San Pedro, and Coronel. Please go there.
Felipe Ubilla, Lota

Destruction in Curico town centre, Photo: Oscar Cubillos Herrera
Much of Curico's town centre was destroyed. Photo: Oscar Cubillos Herrera

In Curico, the earthquake reached the magnitude of 8.3 - by far the strongest earthquake I've experienced. Waking in the middle of the night to the strong movement and loud noises is bad enough, but when your 33-week pregnant wife is lying next to you - it's even worse.

We don't know where our baby will be born or how we'll get there

Luckily, the house we rent is new and resisted the strength of mother nature. I can't say the same for most of the old colonial constructions in the city.

After that, a long night of constant aftershocks, fear and anguish of not knowing whether family members were OK or not.

Two days after, I could finally get to see some images of the devastation from other places. We had no electricity, no running water and no mobile phone network.

Services are slowly getting restored, and food aid is being given from local supermarkets. What worries me is the reconstruction. Also, with the two closest hospitals (in Curico and Talca) awaiting demolition, we don't know where our baby will be born or how we'll get there. We are thankful we are OK and ready to face what lies ahead - this is more than hundreds, possibly thousands of people, can say.
Rodolfo, Curico, Chile

It was tremendous. Fortunately, houses in my district withstood the force of the shake. The most terrible thing was that the earthquake did not "want" to finish; it lasted more than two minutes which seemed eternal. It started with a great noise, then as seconds went by the quake became so strong that it was difficult to stay on our feet. When my wife was able to open the door (we had taken refuge under the doorway) we saw the ghastly spectacle of cries and horror; the pavement looked like a serpent quickly sliding on the ground.
Jorge Milad, Rancagua, Chile

This is hell. We are afraid. Groups of armed people are coming to loot our homes. A thousand soldiers for one million people is a joke.
Macarena, Concepcion

I am from Chillan. The earthquake reached 8.7 degrees in my city. It was shattering. There was a deafening sound that alerted us to the earthquake and it seemed like it wasn't going to end. Once it stopped, we realised how devastating it has been. The worst thing was the prisoners escaping from jail. Some 200 of them out on the streets looting the supermarkets and the petrol stations. There's a curfew and we are afraid of aftershocks.
Catalina, Chillan (close to the epicentre)

I was at a stag party that was just winding down. Some of the hen party crowd had arrived at about 0300 and we were all enjoying the party when the earthquake struck.

We are used to tremors here and at first we just figured it would last a few seconds as normal. Then things then started jumping off shelves, with jars and glasses smashing and the building continued to sway.

At this point people started to worry a little and got into doorways and under the table for protection. The floor rocked, rose and fell as if the building were a boat on rough seas. The windows rattled and the noise was so loud it felt like all would come down on top of us.

After what seemed like an eternity it finally stopped and we all headed outside. The mood was calm yet people were quite clearly shaken. I decided to cycle back to my apartment to check that my dog was safe. It was probably foolish but... I am British after all!

The streets were deserted with no street lights. It was eerily apocalyptic.

Once I reached my building, I walked up the stairs and put the key in the door and could hear my dog on the other side. He has never been more excited to see me in his life. Luckily he was in good shape.
Edward Reilley, Santiago, Chile




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