Our vacations in Chile

Chilean Earthquake 2010

Three days after our arrival in Santiago, on 27 February 2010 at 3:34am, the second most powerful earthquake in recent history struck Chile. It had a magnitude of 8.8 and the epicenter was in Conception, about 200km south of Santiago at the Pacific coast. This earthquake was said to be 100 times stronger than the devastating Haiti earthquake.

We were shaken out of our Santiago hotel beds at 3:34am in the morning when the building was badly shaking. There was no time to get dressed, and we grabbed our survival bags (I wish we had been more careful when packing them), and ran down 10 floors to the lobby, which was said to be safe, and where we spent the time till the morning dawn, while there was more rumbling due to many aftershocks.

After gaining some emotional distance from the quake, the next morning we took a walk through the city. Even though there was damage to buildings and bridges in Santiago, it was surprisingly less than one would expect. This is likely due to the construction of buildings that evidently can withstand earthquakes of the kind we experienced, the solid communication infrastructure, and owing to the preparedness of the Chilean people, who experience earthquakes at a regular weekly rate. Moreover, it is due to the resilience and attitude of the Chilean people to stand up for each other in times of need. Although electricity in the city was cut when the earthquake hit, emergency services were maintained city-wide, and we were able to contact our worrying kids in Canada by cell phone just a few hours after the quake.

Minutes after the earthquake, just shaken out of bed
Damages in Santiago, in the Bellavista area and the Providence area (*)
All roads to the south from Santiago were impassable due to collapsed bridges (*), and most
pedestrian overpasses along the roads to the North also collapsed
It took no more than a day until donation drives were organized and benefit concerts were staged
in many Chilean cities under the motto 'Chile helps Chile' (*).
The Santiago International airport building was
damaged and closed for a week.
Despite the building damage, a number of tents were
erected and used for arrival and departure check-in
procedures. A somewhat chaotic but functional
Patiently waiting for boarding the plane back to Canada

Also see: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/02/earthquake_in_chile.html (3 photos tagged by *)

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Last updated: 22 December 2010 by Bernd