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Chile Earthquake: Update 4 March 2010

We have just received the following update from the SOS National Director of Chile, Victor Beltrán:

"It is remarkable how the organisation’s surrounding community has organised itself and reacted with a strong sense of solidarity and mutual responsibility. The neighbourhood has set up security zones to avoid loots and other damages in the facilities such as the SOS Children’s Villages, SOS Social Centres and other places.

Chile earthquake child from Concepcion A supply bridge between SOS Children’s Village Chaimávida and SOS Children’s Village Concepción has been settled, providing food, water, flour, hygienic articles and others, in collaboration with the other nearest SOS Children’s Villages. The supply situation is critical in Concepción and the governmental help has arrived in an insufficient scope and only reached the most affected victims so far. Today, another truck arrived from Puerto Monte. The shipment includes food and hygienic articles. In the meantime, the SOS Children’s Village Aromos is collecting basic supplies which will be transported to Concepción on 5/6 March.

Today, the first Family Strengthening Programme team arrived at Concepción with the aim to establish the programmes for crisis intervention and to develop a daily care programme for the children from the community.  Several facilities are reporting structural damages. They will be assessed during the next days by professionals and the costs associated to the repairs will be settled.  We got in touch with five voluntary psychologists who are experts in treatment of posttraumatic stress caused by natural catastrophes. We will have a meeting with them on 5 March in order to coordinate the activities.

Today we were finally able to take contact with those co-workers from whom we did not have any news. The houses of some suffered structural damages while some of them had some personal injuries, but nothing really serious. We were informed about attempts of looting and disorder in other areas of the country, like in Curicó, a city which was also affected seriously by the earthquake. We have a Village there, too, so the SOS staff members are taking all necessary measures to guarantee the Chile earthquake security.

Now that the communications have gradually improved in the areas of disaster, we have been able to get into contact with the biological families of several children of the different SOS Children’s Villages. However, we haven't been able to contact some biological families whose children are in the process of family reintegration ordered by the National Service of the Youth Welfare, because those children were not in the village at the day of the disaster. So we managed to have a vehicle dedicated exclusively to the search of these families.

Yesterday afternoon (3 March), there was a strong aftershock in Concepción (6.3 degrees on the Richter scale) and the firemen alerted people about a tsunami, which generated a massive panic. The children of the Village in Concepción, together with staff  ran away to the hills together with many other people. Luckily the alert was lifted minutes later. Communication was cut off again after this aftershock.  We have been contacted by the newly elected mayor, who will take this position on 11 March (day of presidential change), in order to integrate the emergency plan that will be implemented by the new government. The first meeting will take place on 10 March."