Friday 13 December 2019

Quake victims 'forgotten' amid miner rescue

Fiona Govan in Talcahuano

VICTIMS of the Chilean earthquake, which left more than 500 dead and displaced an estimated two million people, have complained that they have been forgotten, while their president, Sebastian Pinera, basks in the glory of the miners' rescue.

The president was feted across Europe last week for bringing the 33 trapped miners up from the deep.

On February 27, an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale shook Chile and sparked a tsunami that wiped out coastal towns across the region.

Almost eight months later Talcahuano, 482km south of Santiago, once a bustling port, is still paralysed, its houses destroyed and trade through the port barely a trickle.

On the outskirts of town, some 600 people live in emergency housing in a settlement called El Morro, one of several dozen such camps across south-central Chile.

"We've been forgotten," said Cecilia Vallejos (40), president of the residents' committee at the camp.

"Watching all the attention given to the miners just emphasised that. Of course we, like all Chileans, were so pleased when they came out. But their hell is over after two months. We are still living ours."

Planners say that reconstruction can only begin following detailed land surveys to ensure new urban planning can withstand any subsequent earthquakes and tsunamis. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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