Thursday, March 11, 2010

Aftershocks rattle Chile during Inauguration

Martin Bernetti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images -Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, accompanied by his wife, Cecilia Morel, during his inauguration ceremony at the Congress in Valparaiso on Thursday. 

The new Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera, had not even taken office on Thursday when major aftershocks rocked the central coast of this earthquake-ravaged country. But within hours of his inauguration, he appeared on television to announce that troops, relief supplies and even Mr. Piñera himself would be heading immediately to the quake zone.

In rushing to respond aggressively to the tremors, it seemed that Mr. Piñera was trying to avoid the missteps of his predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, whose response to a devastating Feb. 27 earthquake was criticized as halting and ineffective. Mr. Piñera said he would fly to the hardest-hit areas later Thursday, and promised to “deploy all of the troops that may be necessary starting this evening to guarantee calm and public order.”


In the legislative seat of Valparaíso, about 90 miles from the quakes, dignitaries who gathered for the inauguration of Mr. Piñera made nervous jokes and glanced at the shuddering ceiling of the National Congress building as the quakes hit, according to news reports.

Mr. Piñera, however, showed no sign of acknowledging the tremors, and continued to shake hands with leaders and supporters before taking the oath of office. But the building was evacuated after the inauguration.

Claudio Santana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images From left, Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and Rafael Correa of Ecuador during a 6.9 magnitude aftershock during the inauguration ceremony of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera on Thursday.
The United States Geological Survey reported that the first quake on Thursday struck the coast to the west of Rancagua and was quickly followed by one of 6.7 magnitude at 11:55 a.m., and another of 6.0 magnitude at 12:06 p.m. Scores of strong aftershocks have rattled Chile’s interior and its coastline since the Feb. 27 quake, one of the most powerful on record. That quake killed hundreds of people, toppled apartment buildings and bridges, and stirred up powerful waves that erased entire fishing villages hugging the southern coast of the country.

No comments:

Post a Comment