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Chile quake death toll up as resuce efforts underway

2010-03-01 07:45 BJT

Special Report: 8.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Chile |

SANTIAGO, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- More than thirty hours after a magnitude-8.8 earthquake hit south-central Chile, the death toll has reached 708 on Sunday while rescue and relief efforts are underway.

A car is smashed over after the magaquake in Concepcion, Chile, Feb. 28, 2010. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said on Sunday the death toll of the magnitude-8.8 earthquake reached 708 and was likely to increase as rescue went on. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)
A car is smashed over after the magaquake in Concepcion, Chile, Feb. 28, 2010.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said on Sunday the death toll of the
magnitude-8.8 earthquake reached 708 and was likely to increase as rescue
went on. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet told a news conference that the number of the killed is expected to increase further.

"The last number I have is 708," said Bachelet, adding that the country was facing "a catastrophe of such unthinkable magnitude" and would need enormous efforts to recover.

Among the dead, 541 people was in the Maule region, 64 in Bio Bio, and other 103 deaths were from other affected areas.

In the Maule region, more than 350 people died in the coastal town of Constitution after the megaquake and an ensuing tsunami.

Media reports also said around 400 people disappeared on Sunday morning after the huge waves of Orrego island, located at the outfall of the Maule river, hit Constitution.

Earlier, the president said over 2 million people out of the 16.6 millon Chileans were affected. Over 1.5 million buildings were demaged or destroyed.

Some estimates put the total damage at between 15 billion U.S. dollars and 30 billion U.S. dollars, equal to 10 percent to 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

In the hardest-hit town of Concepcion, 115 kilometers from the epicenter of the quake, which is off the coast of Maule region, the whole downtown area was razed to the ground.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: Xinhua