On 27 February at 03:34 am (local time) an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.8 on the Richter scale has struck off the Chilean coast. The epicenter of the earthquake was 325km southwest of Santiago, 35km depth; with Concepcion, the second largest city in Chile (population approx 200,000) most affected. More than 90 aftershocks had been recorded, ranging from 4.9 to 6.9 in magnitude. The Government of Chile declared 6 regions as zone of catastrophes. The 6 regions affected are Valparaiso, Metropolitana, Libertador, O´Higgins, Araucania, BioBio and Maule.
At least 700 are reported dead, however, the numbers are expected to rise as rescue crews reach more areas. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued the highest-level tsunami warning for most Pacific coast countries and island states. However, as of Sunday, the warning has been cancelled for most areas.
Several buildings in the areas of Santiago and Valparaiso have partially collapsed. The principle hospitals in Temuco-Parral, Llaiten and Concepcion were affected; patients and staff were evacuated. Many other medical facilities have also been damaged in the region. In Concepcion and Valparaiso, public services such as electricity and communications were initially interrupted but have been mostly restored; the telephone system is overwhelmed. At least 3 bridges along the main Quinta highway and roads in the country’s interior have been damaged; the ports of Valparaiso and Talcahuano are affected. Santiago Airport international terminal has suspended commercial flights for a maximum of 72 hours. The Chilean Red Cross reported that some 500,000 homes suffered considerable damage as a result of the quake.
The mayor of Concepcion city has said food is running out. Desperate residents have resorted to looting and demonstrations in the search for food. Lack of electricity in the areas most affected remains a problem meaning that currently cooking facilities are also limited.
In order to support the immediate response of the earthquake, WFP will provide 120 mt biscuits which will be airlifted from regional stocks stored in Quito Ecuador. The biscuits are sufficient to provide rations for 45,000 beneficiaries for 5 days. It is expected that the HEBs will be turned over to the Chilean National Emergency Office (ONEMI) for distribution to the effected populations without access to food or cooking facilities. The EMOP further provides for staff to be deployed to support the emergency efforts in assessment, Public Relations and management.
Duration of assistance (maximum three months): 1 March to 31 May, 2010
Number of beneficiaries and location: 45,000 beneficiaries for 5days in Concepcion and other affected areas
Food basket composition and ration levels: 550 grams HEB per day for 5 days
Total food aid requirements (mt): 120 Mt Biscuits
Mode of implementation: The biscuits will be distributed through ONEMI.