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article imageQuake-tsunami drill mobilizes 400,000 people in northern Chile

By Igor I. Solar     Aug 21, 2011 in World
Antofagasta - About 400,000 people in northern Chile tested their responsiveness in an exercise simulating an 8.3-magnitude earthquake followed by tsunami; about 130,000 people evacuated coastal areas.
The exercise carried out in the Region of Antofagasta involved nine cities and towns along the coastline and inland locations. In all these places, people practiced pre-established emergency plans that included protective actions when faced with a high intensity earthquake.
The mock quake had an epicenter about 83 kilometers west of the coastal town of Taltal and an intensity of over 8 in the Richter scale in Taltal and neighbouring Paposo. Such scenario required the participation of about 400,000 people in nine cities in the whole region and the complete evacuation of all 130 thousand people from four communities of the coastline, reports (in Spanish).
The activity, part of a national program known as "Chile Ready" developed by the National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry (ONEMI), was led by the mayor of Antofagasta, Alvaro Fernández and National ONEMI director, Vicente Núñez. This simulation allowed the implementation of a new line of security in the region, set 30 meters above sea level deemed a "zero risk" level of protection.
Following the exercise, the authorities conducted a survey by air along the shoreline to evaluate the performance of emergency response teams and the level of citizen participation. Mayor Alvaro Fernández, said that "making an overall assessment we consider this as a very good exercise, with high participation which surpassed the numbers that we had planned for evacuation. This has demonstrated that there is a culture of preparedness in the population and responsibility towards emergency situations."
Mr. Nuñez, the National Director of ONEMI said "The people of Antofagasta have tested its ability to respond to disasters. Last year we found that the population of the shoreline was very committed to safety. This year, we also realize that the people of inland locations have developed a culture of prevention against these risks. This is something that makes us proud and motivates us to continue to work for the security of Chileans.”
A Japanese delegation of 11 experts was invited to the mega-earthquake simulation. Asia Pacific director of the Center for Coastal Disaster Research, Takashi Tomita, and director of the Disaster Management Division of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Shigeyuki Matsumoto, flew over the region with national authorities to assess the exercise and the evacuation of the population.
The drill carried out on Friday August 19 in the Antofagasta region adds to exercises conducted earlier this year within the program "Chile Ready” in other regions of Chile including "Los Rios", "Arica-Parinacota" and "Atacama". The plan is to conduct earthquake-tsunami-evacuation preparations throughout the country. On September 9 will be the turn of the town of Pichilemu, one of the locations worst hit by the earthquake that devastated central-south Chile on 27 February, 2010.
More about Chile, Chile earthquake, earthquake and tsunami, Simulation, Antofagasta
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