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Chilean president oversees relief work in quake-hit region

2010-03-05 08:08 BJT

Special Report: 8.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Chile |

SANTIAGO, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Thursday traveled to the cities of Concepcion and Talca, the hardest-hit areas in Saturday's massive earthquake, to oversee the armed forces' distribution of aid supplies.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet visits the humanitarian help center in the quake-devastated Concepcion, Chile, March 4, 2010. It will take at least three years to rebuild the country after the huge quake and tsunami hit Chile on Feb. 27, President Michelle Bachelet said Thursday. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet visits the humanitarian help center in the
quake-devastated Concepcion, Chile, March 4, 2010. It will take at least three
years to rebuild the country after the huge quake and tsunami hit Chile on Feb.
27, President Michelle Bachelet said Thursday. (Xinhua/Victor Rojas)

In both cities, Bachelet visited the aid distribution centers for their respective regions.

Speaking on a false tsunami warning by the firemen in Concepcion on Wednesday following a powerful aftershock, which caused confusion among the public, Bachelet said the firemen had said it was a non-official alarm, but "at the end we should say that it is better an extra alarm than a missing one."

"However, we must be careful, because evacuating a city without reason is also costly for the people," Bachelet added.

Chilean authorities said the death toll from the magnitude-8.8 earthquake has risen over 800 and about 2 million others were affected.

Quake-caused damage to Chile is so far estimated at up to 30 billion U.S. dollars, or a fifth of the country's gross domestic product.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Chile on Friday to show his "solidarity" with the Chilean people, his spokesperson said.

Ban is expected to meet with Bachelet and President-elect Sebastian Pinera.

Chilean Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez said a meeting will be held between representatives of international organizations and the Chilean government to discuss priorities of international aid.