Seoul to send aid for Chile quake victims

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Seoul to send aid for Chile quake victims

Korea has decided to provide $2 million worth of emergency humanitarian aid to Chile, as the country devastated by the 8.8-magnitude earthquake last weekend struggles to maintain order. Chile has finally placed a call for international help.

The Foreign Ministry in Seoul announced that it had decided on the size of the Chilean aid after a meeting with the Welfare Ministry and Korea International Cooperation Agency. Korea will provide tents and electrical generators.

The nation’s emergency medical workers remained on standby, but Korea will not send rescue workers. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun explained that Chile’s neighboring countries have sent rescue personnel and the Chilean government hasn’t made any specific request for more such workers from Korea.

As the death toll keeps rising following the seventh most powerful earthquake on record, Chile decided to ask for international help.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Chile requested field hospitals with surgery facilities, mobile bridges, communications gear, kitchens and disaster assessment and coordination teams. In the immediate aftermath of the quake, Chile had said it would wait to assess damage before reaching out for help. Alicia Barcena, the UN’s executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, told reporters in Santiago that the UN will send 45 satellite phones and is prepared to send 30 tons of food and other aid. The UN was also waiting to hear if Chile wanted financial support. Other nations were also prepared to help. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would provide communications and other technical equipment. The European Union said it was ready to deploy “an assessing mission” to examine structural damage to buildings.

President-elect Sebastian Pinera, due to take over the reins in Chile on March 11, told AFP the situation was “worse than expected” in the disaster zone in Concepcion, the second-largest city in Chile, located close to the epicenter of the quake.


By Yoo Jee-ho, AFP [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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