Double Tragedy

Chile is appealing for international help as it copes with the double disasters of a fierce earthquake quickly followed by a devastating tsunami.

Chile is appealing for international help as it copes with the double disasters of a fierce earthquake quickly followed by a devastating tsunami. "The Chilean government initially said it needed time to assess the damage before it called for help, but ambassador Jose Luis Balmaceda says the situation has changed. ‘This question was finally solved late last night and was sent to all the embassies around the world,’ he told The World Today on ABC Radio. ‘I have been in touch with AusAid during the whole morning and with DFAT about this need. I guess that AusAid will take the necessary measures in order to provide part of the requirements.’ Earlier, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet confirmed the disaster had killed 708 people but said that number was likely to increase as emergency workers reached more affected areas. Mr Balmaceda says Chile's requirements include fresh water, temporary accommodation, field hospitals and rescue teams, as well as help assessing the damage of buildings including hospitals and schools. But he says reports of difficulty managing the disaster at a time of political transition are wrong. Ms Bachelet only remains in power for another 10 days, when the president-elect Sebastian Pinera will take government."

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