More information about the earthquake: state.gov/chilequake
On March 1, 2010, U.S. Ambassador to Chile Paul Simons provided an update via video-conference from Santiago on the U.S. response to the aftermath of the earthquake this past weekend. Ambassador Simons said:
"The earthquake hit at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday and our primary responsibility and our primary focus over the last two and a half days has been to secure and ensure the safety and security of American citizens here in Chile.
"So within one hour of the earthquake itself, we had mounted an operations center here at the Embassy, and we basically have been working 24/7 in two areas. The first has been to ensure that our 300 direct hire American employees and Chilean employees were safe and secure. And fortunately, I'm able to report that we have been able to locate all 300 of those employees and their families, and everybody is fine in the Santiago area.
"Our broader responsibility is for the approximately 18,000 U.S. citizens who reside in Chile, are visiting here, or are students at any given time. And we activated a separate consular 24/7 operations center which has been reaching out through our wardens to locate Americans around the country. And we've been fairly successful here. We've reached out to most of our wardens in most parts of the country. And up to now, we do not have any reports of any American citizens who have died or had any serious injuries.
"However, we have very limited reports in -- from the area directly impacted by the earthquake. So this afternoon, we sent a three-person team down to Concepcion to have some eyes and ears on the ground to work with some of our contacts down there to do a little bit more active jobs in terms of seeking out the welfare and whereabouts of the perhaps 1,000 American citizens in the Concepcion area.
"This earthquake really has been two earthquakes, to some extent. The situation here in Santiago is returning to normal fairly quickly. Electricity and water have been restored to most of the city. Stock market was open today. The newspapers are being issued. Traffic is fairly normal. There's a fair amount of internal damage to buildings, but not too much structural damage. And clearly, Santiago is moving forward. But the Concepcion area, the Maule area, were hit very, very, very hard, and the situation there is quite precarious. And that really will be the focus of our efforts in the coming days in terms of American citizen work.
"In addition, we're delighted that the Secretary will be joining us here briefly tomorrow for meetings with President Bachelet and with President-elect Piñera. We'll have an opportunity to exchange views. The Chilean Government yesterday indicated that it was open to receive offers of assistance from the international community. The foreign minister today -- we've been in touch with him many times on a continuous basis to see what exactly it is that Chile needs, and to match that up with some of the resources that we have available. And certainly, that will be the focus of the Secretary's visit as well."Full Text