Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Rescue Efforts Continue After Chile Quake


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Im Michele Norris.


Im Melissa Block.

And we begin this hour in Chile where search and recovery efforts continue after Saturdays massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake. The death toll now stands at more than 700 and after an appeal from the countrys president, the United Nations said today that it would expedite aid to the areas hardest hit.

NORRIS: Rescuers are still scrambling to find missing people in Concepcion, Chiles second largest city. It was hard hit by the quake. Aid groups are struggling to get food distribution going. Police are trying to keep looting under control.

Journalist Annie Murphy has been in and around the city of Concepcion and she joins us now by telephone. Annie, we understand that youve been to a 15-story apartment building that had collapsed where dozens are missing. Whats the scene there?

ANNIE MURPHY: The apartment building is very modern. It was recently constructed. It literally just toppled over on its side and when it hit the ground, split in two. So you have these two pieces at these odd angles and rescuers trying to get in there any way they can. They said that they're using dogs, thermal cameras, machinery, everything. There are still over 50 people trapped inside.

NORRIS: Any rescues yet?

MURPHY: They've had - I think they said there are five people. Theyre working in different teams and the man I talked to said that he thought they were five so far, no one is alive.

NORRIS: Food and water are very scarce in many places and were hearing continued reports now of looting. What have you seen there?

MURPHY: Its definitely increased. Today, I saw it in the morning and right around lunchtime it got more intense. People opened up a supermarket, went inside. I interviewed an older woman who was actually just very shaken up because she had had to get in there. She said she was scrambling on her stomach across the floor of the supermarket, pushing people so she could get diapers for her grandson. She had the diapers in her hand to show for it. But things are still pretty desperate in terms of food and water.

NORRIS: Whats the situation with food distribution and also security?

MURPHY: In terms of food distribution, Ive heard of a couple of instances of businesses that have large supplies, cooking a communal people and distributing it to people. There are also a lot of people in there own neighborhoods who are coming together to make, you know, collective meals that are everything they can put together. Other than that, I havent seen any government outreach distributing food at this point. There is some water distribution. And security, theres more military arriving. They're in the streets. Theyre trying to stop the looting. Theres quite a presence at this point.

NORRIS: Once the effort amplifies to get aid into the country, people will be looking to the port and we understand that the port near Concepcion was badly damaged. Can you describe the scene there?

MURPHY: People there say that the sea entered about a kilometer in. When I went there I saw mud and debris starting about a kilometer from the shore. It just, you know, kind of a sea of mud, trash, shipping containers, fishing boats, nets, buoys, dead animals, its a mess.

NORRIS: Have you heard anything from the people that youve talked to about the government response? Are they satisfied with what the government is doing there right now?

MURPHY: No, not at all. People are outraged. They feel abandoned. I think they just, you know, that just feel kind of undone right now. Theres no work for them to go. Theres no sort of agency that is looking out for them that they feel.

NORRIS: And theres a great concern I guess about the rains that might be coming.

MURPHY: People are concerned about the rain. It would make a very bad situation worse.

NORRIS: Annie Murphy, thank you very much.

MURPHY: Thank you.

NORRIS: Thats journalist Annie Murphy. She spoke to us in Concepcion, Chile. Thats one of the cities worst hit by the massive earthquake over the weekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Related Stories