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Fear spreads as aftershocks rattle Chile
Published on 7 Mar. 2010 12:06 AM IST
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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was to visit this earthquake-struck Chilean city on Saturday to assess its needs as new fears spread among Chileans following three strong aftershocks. The Navy meanwhile sacked the head of the Oceanography Service, saying he had failed to provide a clear warning of the deadly tsunami that followed Saturday’s 8.8-quake, as criticism grew of the official disaster response. A first 6.2-magnitude aftershock jolted people awake at 6:20 am (0920 GMT), on Friday just six days after the 8.8-magnitude quake which, along with the tsunami, left more than 800 people dead and some two million homeless. That was followed by a 6.8-magnitude tremor -- one of the strongest of more than 200 to rattle Chile since the weekend -- and another measuring 6.6. Some damaged buildings in Concepcion, the country’s second city and worst affected by the big quake, collapsed, but the national emergency services said the aftershocks caused no injuries or serious damage. Oceanography chief Mariano Rojas was removed from his post on Friday, and the head of the Navy opened an investigation into their response to the catastrophe, an official statement said. Chile aftershocks could go on for years: ScientistsMilitary officials have admitted making a mistake following the quake. They said had transmitted “very unclear information” to President Michelle Bachelet on whether to lift or maintain a tsunami alert, as giant waves began crashing into the Pacific coast. The UN secretary general arrived in the capital Santiago on Friday to assess the damage and meet with Bachelet and president-elect Sebastian Pinera. He was due to travel on Saturday to Concepcion, and was expected to stop in Talcahuano, a port hit by the tsunami. Now, Chile says earthquake toll is 452 SANTIAGO, MAR 6 (IANS): Chile updated the official death toll to 452 victims from the February 27 quake that struck near the country’s second-largest city, Concepcion. On Thursday, the government had released an initial death toll of 279, revising the counting method that had resulted in a previous figure of 803 fatalities. Deputy Interior Minister Patricio Rosende explained that the government now insists on including only the victims that have been fully identified. “Those who have died were people, not numbers, and until we are completely certain of the identities of the victims of this catastrophe, we will restrict the information to those whom we have been able to identify,” Rosende said. The official list includes complete names and addresses, in order to dispel any doubts and avoid confusion with people still missing whose fate is not yet known, he said. The final death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are found and victims identified.

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