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UNICEF and partners stand ready to help after massive earthquake strikes Chile

1st March 2010 Posted in: Emergencies
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UNICEF and its UN partners are monitoring events and stand ready to help in the aftermath of an 8.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Chile early Saturday at 3.34am local time. The quake struck about 100km from Chile’s second-largest city, Concepción, which has a population of more than 200,000.

At least 700 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced, causing widespread damage to homes, hospitals, schools, roads and other infrastructure. All UNICEF staff in Chile have been accounted for.

“UNICEF will assist all those affected by the earthquake in Chile, especially the children,” said a spokesperson for the agency.

‘Zones of catastrophe’

The Government of Chile has declared ‘zones of catastrophe’ in the affected regions, including Bio-Bio, Maule, Araucania, Valparaiso and Metropolitan Santiago.

Following its initial assessment of needs and damage, the government said today that it would accept some offers of international assistance – particularly aid in the form of field hospitals, temporary bridges and water-purification supplies, as well as damage-assessment experts and search-and-rescue workers.

Children are most vulnerable

Children are the most vulnerable in any emergency. Besides urgent interventions to ensure child survival and protection in such situations, UNICEF works to restore education as quickly as possible – providing a sense of normalcy and security for children whose world has been turned upside-down.

Chile’s Ministry of Education has suspended the start of the school year by one week. Classes had been scheduled to resume on Monday but will now begin on 8 March.

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