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1. SITUATION in CHILE. On 27th February a powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit central Chile. More than 115 aftershocks occurred during the following hours.

According to the Emergency National Office (ONEMI), the current number of confirmed casualties is 723, more than 350 people died in the coastal town of Constitution (Maule region) due to waves from a tsunami. The death toll is expected to continue to rise as communications are restored with the most affected areas.

The latest official reported figures show over 2 million persons affected. An estimated 500,000 homes have been seriously damaged. Several bridges, motorways and roads have collapsed. There is no public transport between the regions and the population is being advised not to travel by car . A national state of catastrophe has been declared for Maule and Bio-Bio regions. Ten thousand troops have been mandated to patrool hit areas to quell looting; 160 persons have been arrested by the police for looting. First estimate from Eqecat – a U.S. company involved in risk analysis for insurance companies – indicate that the quake could cost between $15 and $30 billion (the equivalent of 15% of Chile’s GDP). Chile stock index sank of 2.7% today. Price of copper may raise as a result of limited power supplies and curtail exports.

No reported deaths or major injuries (so far) of EU Member State citizens. Those Member States that have Consulates in Chile confirmed that they would seek to provide assistance to any MS citizen that requests it. Some EU Member States have substantial numbers of nationals in Chile (Italy 50 000, Spain about 31 000, Germany about 30 000 and the UK about 5000). However, these figures mostly refer to people with dual nationality, which are long-term residents in the country and are certainly not in need of evacuation. Concerning the number of tourists, it is not yet clear how many people were in the affected area at the time of the earthquake. It remains difficult to contact people in the area as telephone networks are not fully operational and there is no electricity (so mobile phones out of battery cannot be recharged). In spite of the major difficulties caused by the earthquake, the Chilean authorities so far seem to cope with the situation.

Main Challenges for International assistance

The Chilean government has officially requested international assistance on the following domains: mechanical bridges, field hospitals with surgical capacity, satellite telephones and relay stations, generators, salt water purification systems, shelter, self-dialysis units 4 , field kitchens, USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) teams

Concerning the health infrastructure the most serious problems have occurred in southern Chile, where six hospitals collapsed and two others were damaged severely and left unable to function. Hospitals continue to function in the Santiago metropolitan area.

 

2. LATEST AVAILABLE FIGURES

GLOBAL

 

Number of casualties (minimum estimate) 1

723

Total number of people affected in some way

2,000,000

EU NATIONALS

 

Europeans resident in Chile (maximum estimate) 2

146,485

Europeans tourists present on 27.02 (maximum estimate) 3

15,228

Europeans accounted for

1698

Europeans unaccounted for (maximum estimate)

1073



3. EU Emergency response

3.1. Humanitarian Effort

On 28 February DG ECHO adopted a € 3 million Primary Emergency Decision. A team of humanitarian experts has been deployed to the affected area. Close contact is being maintained with ECHO partners, the EU Delegation in Chile and regional partners.

3.2 Civil Protection coordinated by MIC

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism issued a pre-alert message to the Participating States  immediately after the earthquake on 27 February and the Civil Protection Mechanism was activated  on 1 March, following the request for international assistance of the Chilean President.  Concerning the deployment of a coordination and assessment team, 13 experts have already expressed their availability. The MIC is now making the selection of the team members, by taking into account Spanish language skills, Mechanism training and technical expertise (structural engineering/civil engineering/earthquake engineering). The likely time of arrival on site of the team is 3 March. In order for the team to be self-sustainable in a region that may still be subject to earthquake shocks, it is also envisaged to deploy a Technical Assistance and Support Team (TAST) module.

The MIC is also preparing  the deployment of an EU Advanced Medical Post (AMP) with Surgery. Both the TAST and the AMP are on stand-by for the EU under the Preparatory Action for EU Rapid Response capacity.

The MIC has also requested offers for in-kind assistance from the Participating States for the above-listed priority items. The MIC is in contact with MS on possible offers.

4. EU Ongoing Cooperation with Chile (Background)

The relations between Chile and the EU are long-standing and excellent. The EU-Chile Association Agreement entered into force in 2005 and is the cornerstone of the relation covering a wide range of political, cooperation and trade issues. Chile actively supports EU policies and standards in the region. Political dialogue meetings take place regularly at all level. The EU is the main source of FDI for Chile and EU-Chile trade amounted to €16B in 2008.

The envelope for development cooperation with Chile for the period 2007-2013 amounts to €41million, matched by the same amount from Chile’s side. Funds are earmarked for three priority sectors: social cohesion, innovation & competitiveness and education. These funds are programmed in close cooperation with the Chilean authorities.

For more information and to download relevant documents please consult the EU External Action sitea at:

http://eeas.europa.eu/news/index_en.htm

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