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Chilean president calls for reconstruction, urges calm as more aftershocks recorded

2010-03-04 07:36 BJT

Special Report: 8.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Chile |

SANTIAGO, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday called on the people to remain calm and urged them "to work together on the recovering of Chile," which saw a flurry of aftershocks.

"We cannot be defeated by the adversity, we are in conditions to stand up again," Bachelet said after a meeting with directors of the Production and Commerce Confederation (CPC).

She said the reconstruction of the country "is everybody's work" and at this moment her government is focusing on tackling the emergency, adding the main task is to restore basic services as soon as possible at the most affected zones.

The president said the private sector should participate in Chile's reconstruction, since the earthquake devastated the country had killed 799 people and caused huge loses of property up to now.

Representatives of productive sectors, including industry, agriculture, trade, construction, banks and mining, headed by CPC's President Rafael Guilisasti, as well as Chilean Treasury Minister Andres Velasco, Public Works Minister Sergio Bitar and Energy Minister Marcelo Tokman, attended the meeting.

Bachelet said food and energy supply are guaranteed and basic services such as electricity and drinking water supply had began to restore in many disaster areas, which helps ease the emergency works and give the people tranquility.

The government is concentrating on "assisting the most affected people" with food, health services and water, and is working for "any person without aid after the terrible tragedy," said the president.

Bachelet also reaffirmed her objection to looting in the last days in the quake-hit areas. "We are not going to accept any people to take advantage" because stealing things like televisions are not for surviving "but a crime," she added.

The Chilean government on Tuesday extended an 8:00 p.m.-to-noon curfew to begin at 6:00 p.m. to crack down on looting in Concepcion, one of the hardest-hit cities in the Saturday quake.

Authorities also added three towns, Talca, Cauquenes and Constitucion, to the curfew list to suppress looting in those areas.

Bachelet said the CPC is making great efforts to reopen the stores that are in good conditions, mainly those having basic products.

One of the major priorities after the quake is to protect the jobs, Bachelet said.

It is important that "we use all the methods to take care and protect the jobs" and generate more jobs for the reconstruction works, Bachelet said.

"We do not want to add the drama of the unemployment ... I have no doubt about the commitment that the private sector has made," Bachelet said. Once the crisis is over, it will be the moment to stand up, she said.

Meanwhile, Guilisasti said the sectors in conditions of guaranteeing the supply of products have committed "to make all possible efforts" for the companies to return to normality.

Guilisasti hailed the efforts of the Chilean government to restore the public order in the quake-affected zones, saying the production sector works for repairing the roads, supplying basic services, fuels and products, as well as relaunching trade activities.

Guilisasti called on the citizens to "change their attitude" and stop making massive purchases.

"We share with President Bachelet the call to the people to be calm, there are conditions to supply and the connections are restored, the products will arrive to the people. There is not a reason to be alarmed, there are enough supplies," Guilisasti added.

The productive and commercial sectors are evaluating the situation, "we are sure that Chilean companies will recover their activities," Guilisasti said.

"Chile has the fiscal resources, all the resources of the companies, Chile has human capital, it has the capacity to stand up and rise, to succeed with the efforts of everybody," he added.