28 February 2010
The British Red Cross has today launched an emergency appeal to support people affected by the massive earthquake in Chile on 27 February 2010.
The earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, measured 8.8 on the Richter scale.
More than 300 people are reported killed so far and the Chilean government estimates around two million more are affected by the disaster.
People are being assisted with search and rescue and medical assistance, as well as basic amenities like water, sanitation and shelter – however, the needs are great.
The Chilean Red Cross is already working on the ground in partnership with emergency services, carrying out search and rescue operations and damage assessments, and giving medical assistance where necessary.
Aftershocks continue, many between 5.5 and 6.5 on the Richter scale, and thus significant in their own right.
The epicentre was around 90 km from Chile's second largest city, Concepcion (population around 650,000) and around 350km from the capital, Santiago.
Two of the main affected regions are Bio Bio and Maule, both of which contain rural areas with a high vulnerability to earthquakes – many people in these areas live in homes of mud bricks.
The Chilean Red Cross has volunteers and staff trained to respond in the aftermath of disasters. In 2007, when an earthquake measuring 7.7 struck the northern coast, it provided mobile medical units, emergency food packs, hygiene kits and psychological support.
The Chilean Red Cross is also a member of the National Commission for Civil Protection in Chile, the body set up to co-ordinate disaster relief responses between government and other agencies.
The British Red Cross made an initial £50,000 donation from its Disaster Fund yesterday to support the immediate response.
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