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Chile Earthquake emergency: armed looting threatens Children charity

SOS offices in Chile showing earthquake damage
SOS offices in Chile showing earthquake damage

Chile Earthquake emergency: looting threatens Children charity

We have just established contact with Jessica Lange, director of our Village in Concepción, via mobile phone.

She reports that the situation is critical because last night there was an attempted armed break in to the village in order to loot the houses. This post earthquake looting is very dangerous, everyone is being kept shut indoors as there are people armed and shooting around them- she reports.

At this moment, we are trying to contact the emergency relief team headed to Concepción in order to warn them of the situation. We are also trying to get contact with the police and the armed forces of Santiago to seek some protection in the area.

As we were writing this report, we made contact with Norma Valdes, director of the SOS Mother Training Centre near Concepción who said us that there are gunshots in the streets and that people are looting all shops. We lost contact with her at a moment people attempted to get in her car. We could not restore the contact with her since then and are concerned.

It has just been established a curfew in Concepción starting midday until the chaos can be controlled by the police and the armed forces. The SOS Children's Village Chaimávida, which is located some 20 min from Concepción, is in danger too, and the cars and fuel are being stolen. For the time being, it is impossible to do something in the nearby.

A team of SOS staff is on the way to Concepción. The team is being leaded by Pablo Perez, who recently volunteered in Haiti and is back in Chile. This team is taking with them a satellite telephone and fuel.

We also knew that the truck that left the commune of Angol towards Concepción, which was taking 1,200 liters of water and flour, was advised not to go the village and, instead, stop at a place which is near the village, so as to supply the village from there.

We are also supplying a truck in Puerto Mont with blankets, mineral water, tents and other basic supplies.

Elsewhere, we could finally enter the Fundraising Offices in Santiago today. The offices are totally unusable. The walls collapsed and structural damages is severe. The SOS team were evacuated and are temporarily working at the National Office.

Finally, we have made contact with the National Service of the Minor in order to coordinate actions in the areas of disaster. So far, it has been impossible to contact the offices of UNICEF in Santiago. Its offices are closed and we don't know the reasons. Also, it has been impossible to obtain photographs from the programmes, because there is no functioning communication structure in most parts of the areas of disaster.

Victor Beltrán
National Director