Chile quake death toll rises to over 700

President Bachelet announces emergency measures in wake of devastating earthquake.

The death toll from the Chilean earthquake rose to more than 700 last night as rescue workers continued to search for bodies and survivors. President Michelle Bachelet announced emergency measures to deal with the destruction and toured heavily hit areas as the race continued to provide basic supplies to entire cities that remained without water, electricity or communications.

"We face a catastrophe of such unthinkable magnitude that it will require a giant effort," Bachelet told reporters on Sunday in the capital, Santiago.

Bachelet said that the government would start to distribute food and water today and would accept international offers of field hospitals, temporary bridges and other aid. As part of a series of extraordinary measures, the army has been brought in to to aid the police against looters and has taken control of Chile's second city, Concepción.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has lifted its Pacific-wide alert, after fears of high waves failed to materialise in many countries. But Chile itself saw coastal towns battered by waves. Defence Minister Francisco Vidal admitted the government had made a mistake by failing to issue a tsunami alert after the earthquake. In the fishing village of Constitución around 350 deaths were caused by the waves.

 

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