• Working with partners to assess damage, so far reports of damage and loss of life remain low
• As many as 60 aftershocks felt by people in affected area
• Nearly a million people evacuated from coasts following tsunami warning
SANTIAGO, Chile (April 2, 2014) — World Vision teams are working with the government and partners in the worst affected areas to assess damage from the 8.2 magnitude earthquake that shook parts of Chile last night and spurred a country-wide tsunami watch that forced much of the coast to evacuate.
“There are many people relieved to see daylight today. People are fearful after experiencing the powerful earthquake in 2010, so they immediately fled for higher ground when they heard the tsunami warning,” said Fabrizio Guzman, World Vision emergency communications manager in Chile. “There have been multiple aftershocks and communications have been cut off in many of the affected areas, so people spent the night waiting in the dark hills not knowing what is to come, and hoping they will be able to return to their homes safely.”
As of mid-morning local time, staff reported that nearly everyone had moved back to their homes in much of the country, as the tsunami warning had been lifted. However, in the north near the epicenter, flights remain grounded, roads are closed due to mudslides and classes canceled. There are reports of power outages in the region. Nonetheless, at the moment first responders remain cautiously optimistic, praising the local community for responding quickly to evacuation calls.
“It is a relief this morning to see so many people heeded the warnings and moved to higher ground. The government prepares people, aid organizations like us prepare, but at the end of the day, people know what to do. They have experienced the terror of past destructive tsunamis and come to the safety zones willingly,” said Paola Avello, World Vision’s emergency manager in Chile.
When the first reports of a potential tsunami came in, World Vision staff in the south of Chile worked with local authorities, fire services and hospitals to help evacuate people from coastal areas. As part of its work, World Vision also conducts trainings to help prepare communities for disasters and keeps supplies like water, food and shelter items pre-positioned in case of an emergency. In fact, just last week World Vision conducted a training with teenagers on emergency preparedness in one of the coastal areas forced to evacuate in Tuesday’s quake. The organization is working with partners and remains on standby, prepared to respond as needed once assessment teams have a clearer picture of the extent of any damage.