World Vision works to rush supplies to 25,000 survivors in Chilean towns

CONCEPCION, Chile, March 3 /CNW/ - Whole towns are completely destroyed or have totally disappeared after Saturday's deadly 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile, reports World Vision, after speaking with children and families about their needs in small towns and outlying areas near Concepcion.

The relief, development and advocacy organization is working on transporting and distributing relief items, particularly food and water, to 25,000 survivors in those areas but faces logistical challenges since roads remain impassable except by helicopter or small plane.

After being struck by three tsunami waves, the city of Coliumo, 112 kilometres from Concepcion, has "totally disappeared," said World Vision aid worker Paula Saez. She recently returned from Haiti, where she helped with World Vision's response to the January 12 earthquake there.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Saez, arriving in Dichato, a tourist and fishing town 64 kilometres north of Concepcion. "This town was completely destroyed. A tsunami hit here after the quake, and there are boats sitting in the middle of the city. The earthquake damaged some things, but the sea took everything away. You can see chairs, tables, even a house floating in the sea."

World Vision assessment teams visiting small towns report that many people continue to live on the streets and in tents. In coastal cities, tsunamis have sent people into the hills and away from their towns. Aftershocks continue to threaten structures and fray nerves. Supplies are low almost everywhere.

World Vision staff in Dichato report that the injured have not received medical help because access to the town has been cut off. Food, clean water and medical supplies are virtually depleted. In Coronel, 32 kilometres south of Concepcion, staff estimate that food supplies will last one more week and in nearby Lota, residents have access to clean water only one hour a day.

World Vision has been working in Chile for some 30 years and had more than 100 staff on the ground before the quake hit, many of whom lived and worked in areas close to the quake epicenter. Staff began distributing blankets and water containers immediately following the quake. Those who want to help with World Vision's Chile relief efforts can visit or call 1-800-268-5528.

SOURCE World Vision Canada

For further information: For further information: or to interview World Vision experts, please contact: Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),; Britt Hamilton, (905) 565-6200 ext 3973, (416) 419-1321 (cell),

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