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Earthquake in Chile
Geneva, 3 April 2014
1. Brief description of the emergency and impact
On Tuesday 2 April 2014, a quake of 8.2 magnitude has struck off northern Chile, triggering a tsunami alert in the Pacific and killing at least six people. Afterwards, several strong aftershocks, including one of 7.6 magnitude, have followed.
Arica and Iquique, where most of the population is concentrated, have received waves up to 3 meters provoking power cuts, fires and landslides. More than 900,000 people were evacuated to higher ground and several people had been seriously injured. While the government said it had no reports of significant damage to coastal areas, a number of adobe homes were reported destroyed in Arica. Fisherman looked to be among the worst affected due to the fact that they had lost their small fishing vessels.
Most of the population is showing stress and traumatic symptoms, as residents in the area have been expecting “the big one” for many years and the media has contributed to feed those fears. The Nazca and South American tectonic plates rub up against each other just off the coast of Iquique, where a “seismic gap” has been building up for 137 years.
2. Why is an ACT response needed?
Although a final damage assessment is still pending, it is evident the need to respond quickly to the psychosocial damages affecting most of the population in this region. The expectation of new major earthquakes striking this region in the coming days or weeks is seriously affecting the population. The media have reported with sensationalism approach all kind of interpretations feeding this population believes. The government response is more focus in restoration of services and infrastructures.
3. National and international response
President Michelle Bachelet has declared the northern Chile a disaster zone, including the regions of Arica, Parinacota and Tarapaca, allowing the army and the governmental bodies, like Chile's Emergency Office (ONEMI), to assist the affected population and to keep security in the region. The national humanitarian network, composed by UN, EU and CSO’s, is also doing a needs assessment.
4. ACT Alliance response
ACT member Diego de Medellin Ecumenical Centre (CEDM) is doing a needs assessment in cooperation with the Evangelical Methodist Church, guest in the ACT forum, and the national humanitarian network.
5. Planned activities
The forum is mobilizing two LAC Psychosocial Support Community Based experts to draw a strategy for the affected population. The ACT forum will share their plans and further activities soon.
There are not constraints beyond lack of access to the region.
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