Fears for two British couples as death toll from Chile quake reaches 700...
Amid a rising death toll and isolated outbreaks of looting, three aftershocks struck Chile on Monday morning as rescue efforts continued in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated the country on Saturday.
And fears were growing today for four British backpackers missing in the area. Kirsty Duff and Dave Sandercock were on a surfing holiday round South America but have not been heard from since Thursday. Another couple, Andre Lanyon from Guernsey and Laura Hapgood, both 29, also went to Pichilemu on Friday.
President Michelle Bachelet said Sunday that the death toll had reached 708 and was likely to rise. She also issued an order that will send soldiers into the streets in the worst-affected areas to both keep order and speed the distribution of aid.
She called the magnitude-8.8 earthquake, one of the strongest recorded in history, ‘an emergency unparalleled in the history of Chile.’
Rescue workers said 350 people had been killed in one coastal town after the quake destroyed houses and a tsunami washed fishing boats on to land and flipped over cars.
However, the damage in Chile would have been far higher if the country had not been so well prepared for a major quake. Building regulations were tightened up after a 9.5 magnitude earthquake in 1960 – the largest ever recorded – killed 1,655.