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Cablegate: Mgci01: Chile Earthquake Situation Report No. 1

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 018595

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AEMR ASEC CASC KFLO MARR PREL PINR AMGT CI
SUBJECT: MGCI01: CHILE EARTHQUAKE SITUATION REPORT NO. 1

STATE 00018595 001.2 OF 002


8.8 EARTHQUAKE HITS CHILE
-------------------------

1. (SBU) The 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck at 0134 EST
200 miles southwest of Santiago and 70 miles northeast of
Concepcion at a depth of 22 miles. (Ops/USGS e-mail)

2. (SBU) Aftershocks up to 6.9-magnitude continue to hit
Chile. (Ops/USGS e-mail)

3. (SBU) Three million people were exposed to severe
shaking with another 12 million exposed to moderate to
very strong shaking. (Ops/USGS e-mail)

DEATH TOLL RISING AS PRESIDENT DECLARES DISASTER
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) There are 122 confirmed fatalities with more
expected. The death toll is expected to be in the
hundreds, not thousands. (Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

5. (SBU) There are no reports of deaths or injuries to
American citizens. Post reports 5000 registered American
citizens in Santiago and 500 in the vicinity of
Concepcion. (Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

6. (SBU) President Bachelet declared a state of emergency
and issued a disaster declaration. (Ops/Embassy Santiago
telcon)

7. (SBU) The airport in Santiago is closed because a
terminal sustained significant damage. It will be closed
for 24 hours perhaps longer. Flights are being diverted
to Buenos Aires. Damage to runways is unknown.
(Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

8. (U) A highway bridge and a parking garage collapsed in
Santiago while chunks of buildings and glass were strewn
across roads, media report. Several buildings also
collapsed in the cities of Curico and Concepcion.
(Reuters)

9. (SBU) The Pan-American highway spanning the country
north-south is impassable, while the main tunnel
connecting Santiago with the Chilean coast is closed.
The government instructed coastal vacationers not to
return to the capital. (Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

10. (SBU) Concepcion is without water and electricity.
(Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

11. (SBU) Cellular and landline phone networks are
intermittent at best. (Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

TSUNAMI WARNING ISSUED FOR ENTIRE PACIFIC BASIN
--------------------------------------------- --


STATE 00018595 002.2 OF 002


12. (SBU) The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a
widespread tsunami warning for all areas within and
bordering the Pacific Ocean, including 50 countries and
territories. (Ops/USGS e-mail)

13. (SBU) Tsunami waves have reached Colombia and are
moving northward and westward. Waves were expected to
reach Mexico at 1030 EST, Samoa at 1500, and Hawaii at
1600. (Ops/USGS e-mail)
14. (SBU) The largest tsunami wave yet recorded was 7.7
feet in Talcahuano, Chile while a 1.7 meter wave hit
Valparaiso, Chile. (Ops/NOAA e-mail)

U.S. GOVERNMENT ASSETS AND RESPONSE
-----------------------------------

15. (SBU) Post has accounted for all but three official
Americans. These three are likely out-of-country. There
are no reports of deaths or injuries among Locally
Employed Staff. (Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

16. (SBU) The Embassy stood up a crisis task force and
issued a warden message urging Americans to stay home and
contact loved ones in the United States. Post is
contacting wardens throughout the country. (Ops/Embassy
Santiago telcon)

17. (SBU) Post notes some minor flooding in the Chancery,
but reports no significant structural damage.
(Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

18. (SBU) The State Department Executive Secretariat
formed a Chile earthquake monitoring group under the
direction of the Western Hemisphere Bureau. Consular
Affairs personnel have established a task force to handle
consular issues and calls from American citizens. USAID
has established a response management team. (S/ES)

19. (SBU) There are no U.S. government assets in
Concepcion, but the Chilean military maintains a command
operations center there. (SOUTHCOM Watchgram)

20. (SBU) Post is working with the Chilean government at
the civilian and military levels to determine needs.
SOUTHCOM expects Chile will try to handle SAR response
themselves before asking for assistance. (Ops/Embassy
Santiago telcon)

21. (SBU) USAID has two SAR teams and a DART team
standing by.
(Ops/Embassy Santiago telcon)

22. (U) Additional updates are available through our
Intellipedia portal on the unclassified system at:
https://www.intelink.gov/wiki/Portal:State_Op s_-
Chile_Earthquake_2010.

23. (U) Minimize considered.
CLINTON

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