1 March 2010
As the death toll from Saturday’s earthquake in Chile reaches more than 700, the international Red Cross response is taking shape.
At a magnitude of 8.8 on the Richter scale, the earthquake is one of the ten largest ever recorded.
The Chilean government estimates that, aside from the 700 recorded dead so far, around two million people were affected by the disaster.
There have been more than 90 aftershocks so far, including one of 6.9 on the Richter scale. Infrastructure, such as electricity and water supplies, roads, hospitals and bridges, has been damaged and communications with some of the affected areas have not yet been fully restored.
Field hospitals, tents, telecommunications equipment and electric generators are some of the most urgently needed items.
What we are doing
The British Red Cross launched the Chile Earthquake Appeal on Sunday 28 February – money raised will go to support the work of the Chilean Red Cross, which has been working on the ground since the earthquake hit.
The Chilean Red Cross is working closely with the country’s national emergency office to provide immediate aid to people affected.
It is highly experienced in responding to disasters of this kind, as Chile’s location makes it especially prone to earthquakes. It has volunteers working in the affected areas providing first aid to survivors, and has worked hard in recent years to make sure local communities know how to respond in a crisis.
Staff and volunteers are also broadcasting public service announcements on how to respond to aftershocks, and are appealing to the public to donate blood.
Mike Goodhand, British Red Cross head of disaster management, said: “We are beginning to get reports of significant damage to roads, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure. Access into some areas is still difficult and aftershocks being additional risks to survivors.
“We have immediately released £50,000 to support the Chilean Red Cross, but the scale of the earthquake means much more will be needed.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has also released 300,000 Swiss francs (c. £140,420) from its Disaster Emergency Response Fund.
In the unlikely event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.
Read how we respond to major disasters