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Brussels, 18 March 2010

Factsheet Chile earthquake (17/03/2010)

(Broken bridge in Concepción before and after the earthquake. Source: EC JRC)



Number of fatalities (minimum estimate)1


Number of injured (minimum estimate)2


Total number of people affected in some way



Europeans resident in Chile (maximum estimate) 3


Europeans tourists present on 27.02 (maximum estimate) 4


Europeans accounted for


Europeans unaccounted for (maximum estimate)


Europeans confirmed or presumed dead


Europeans injured



On 27 February a powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit central Chile. Since the initial quake, the U.S. Geological Survey reports 229 aftershocks. On 11 March several aftershocks were registered, of which two measured 7.2 and 6.9 (with 35 km and 44 km depth respectively). The epicentre was registered in O'Higgins region, 150 km from Santiago, and 140 km from Valparaiso, where the Presidential handover of power was ongoing. The Government has been correcting downward the number of deaths because of initial confusion over the number of people who had disappeared. On 11 March the official death toll was reported to be 421 persons. A 30-day curfew has been imposed in the most affected regions of Maule and Bío-Bío. On 11 March, due to the strong aftershocks, this measure was also imposed in O'Higgins region. Chile’s Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter told that the 200 missing people should be added to the death toll.

Two EU Member State citizens are confirmed dead (one Swedish and one Spanish), one Belgian citizen is injured. Those Member States that have Consulates in Chile confirmed that they would seek to provide assistance to any MS citizen that requests it. Some EU Member States have substantial numbers of nationals in Chile (Italy 50,000, Spain about 31,000, Germany about 30,000 and the UK about 5,000). However, these figures mostly refer to people with dual nationality, which are long-term residents in the country and are certainly not in need of evacuation.

The regions most affected are Maule and Bío-Bío. Other affected regions are Araucania, Santiago, Valparaíso and O'Higgins. In general terms, over two weeks after the earthquake, the affected areas are returning to normalcy in relation to public services. Water and electricity have been almost fully restored in affected areas except in some rural areas, where at least 30% of the population is lacking safe water and sanitation. Roads are open, and there is access to almost all the affected populations. Mobile telephone communications have been restored in most areas.

Chilean government estimated that the earthquake could cost USD 30 billion (the equivalent of 15% of Chile’s GDP), insurance covering only USD 5-8 billion. According to Public Works Minister, Helnan de Sominihac it would cost USD 1.46 billion to reconstruct public infrastructure. The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) have opened credit lines for Chile. Chile's new government took office on 11 March.

Since new President Sebastian Piñera took office on 11 March he has visited affected areas: Concepción, Talcahuano, Dichato, Pelluhue, Cauquenes, Talca, Iloca, and Curicó. On 10 March, Carmen Fernandez resigned from her post as ONEMI director. Vicente Muñoz was appointed as the new head of ONEMI.

On 10 and 11 March, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, visited Chile to evaluate the impact of European humanitarian aid on the ground with the ECHO team and the EUCP team, assess needs to be addressed in the future, and to attend the Presidential handover of power.

3. Main Challenges for International assistance

  • Shelter: According to Government reports, approximately 200,000 houses have been severely damaged or completely destroyed. Assessments are still ongoing. The regions of Maule and Bío-Bío have been most affected, since they were hit both by the earthquake and tsunami. The destruction of homes (structural damage beyond repair, not necessarily collapsed) is very high. The tsunami impact was devastating particularly in the coastal towns of Maule region, where 72% of homes were destroyed and 24% require urgent repair. In Bío-Bío 80% of the houses have been destroyed.

  • Water, sanitation and hygiene: Most of the urban networks have already been restored. Approximately 260,000 people in rural areas are in need of temporary potable water supply; while in Bío-Bío 29% of the urban population is still without access to water.

  • Health: The health services network has been severely affected, especially in the Maule and Bío-Bío regions. Countrywide some 4,000 hospital beds have been lost. The Ministry of Health has managed to restore health care services and demand is currently being met.

  • In the disaster area (Valparaiso, Metropolitan, O’Higgins, Maule, Bío-Bío and Araucanía regions) there are 130 hospitals: 25 hospitals suffered damage, 5 of which were completely destroyed, 12 of them were seriously damaged (75% or more) and are providing limited care and 8 have been partially damaged (less than 75%) and have diminished capacity. 14 of these hospitals will need to be rebuilt. 112 hospitals in critical areas are providing emergency treatment. 216 primary level health facilities (not hospitals) are operational in the affected area.

  • Ten field hospitals are up and running. The Ministry has estimated that the cost of reconstructing health care facilities will reach US$ 3,6 billion and that it will take at least three years.

  • There is no health crisis or disease outbreak and epidemiological surveillance has already been strengthened, especially in shelters and camps.

  • Education: According to the Ministry of Education, approximately 80% of children in Santiago began classes on 8 March. Classes in Maule were expected to start on 15 March. Schools in Bío-Bío may open even later due to damage to infrastructure, difficult transportation and schools being used as temporary shelters. Approximately 33% of the schools in the earthquake-affected regions are not operational or only partially operational with restrictions (14%), and approximately 1,250,000 students cannot attend to school.

  • The Ministry of Education estimates that the reconstruction of the education infrastructure will cost US$1.606 billion.

  • Food: Immediate food needs are currently well covered by national actors (both government and private actors) and international food aid is not required.

  • On 1 March, an official request for international assistance was issued by the Chilean Government. A more detailed list issued by the new Government is expected in the next days.

4. EU Emergency response

4.1. Humanitarian Effort

On 28 February DG ECHO adopted a € 3 million Primary Emergency Decision. Humanitarian grant agreements have now been concluded with four partners to provide emergency telecommunications services; help re-establish health services; and supply shelter, safe water and basic household essentials.

A team of humanitarian experts was deployed to the affected area. Joint assessments were carried out with OCHA, several UN agencies and the EU Civil Protection team in the most affected areas.

4.2 Civil Protection coordinated by MIC

Following the request for international assistance from the Chilean President, an EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCP) team, consisting of 6 experts, was deployed to Santiago on 5 March. The team was supported by a Technical Assistance and Support - TAST module (developed by DEMA-Denmark), under the Preparatory Action for EU Rapid Response Capacity.

The EUCP team had two basis of operation. Part of the EUCP team settled in Penco (near Concepción), from where they undertook joint assessments with OCHA, several UN agencies, ECHO TAs, and national authorities in the most affected areas.

Coordination in Santiago has been ensured by the experts that remained in the capital. In Santiago contacts have been constant with the ONEMI in order to ensure consignees for the offers of assistance from Austria, Sweden, Bulgaria, and Slovakia, and coordination with the UN and other international partners in the country. The EUCP team started phasing out progressively on 14 March. Last experts are leaving Santiago on 17 March. Follow-up of the European CP assistance will be ensured by the EU Delegation in Chile.

In-kind assistance from some Participating States (PS) has been offered, including tents, mechanical bridges, water purification units, generators, medical equipment and experts. The initially envisaged support in building damage assessment (EUCP Team Bravo) will not be deployed, as this process is almost finalised.

The French water purification units and other assistance reached Santiago on 4 March. The Austrian power generators arrived on site on 13 March and ONEMI will transfer them to Concepcion and Talcahuano for distribution. Austria has also donated 15 large 100-persons tents that will be transported to Chile in the course of next week. Swedish experts on site have already identified, in close cooperation with the Chilean authorities, sites for the offered mechanical bridges. Slovakia has informed the MIC that it will transport its assistance by ship (5 tents - 50 pax, 3 field kitchen - 30 pax, power generators - 21).

5. EU Ongoing Cooperation with Chile (Background)

Relations between Chile and the EU are long-standing and excellent. The EU-Chile Association Agreement entered into force in 2005 and is the cornerstone of the relationship, covering a wide range of political, cooperation and trade issues. In general, Chile and the EU share values and objectives at international level, and work effectively together within the group of LAC countries and in supporting political stability in Latin America. The next major event in the EU-Chile relationship is the EU-Chile Summit of heads of state and government which will take place in Madrid on 17 May. The EU is the main source of FDI for Chile and EU-Chile trade amounted to €16 billion in 2008.

The envelope for development cooperation with Chile for the period 2007-2013 amounts to €41million, matched by the same amount from Chile’s side. Funds are earmarked for three priority sectors: social cohesion, innovation & competitiveness and education. These funds are programmed in close cooperation with the Chilean authorities.

For more information and to download relevant documents please consult the EU External Action site at

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre funded by the Instrument for Stability provides maps and analysis at

1 :

Source: : OCHA situation Report 6 of 10 March 2010

2 :

Source: ONEMI, Media reports and SITCEN Consular Unit

3 :

EU citizens on consular lists of EU Member States' Embassies.

4 :

EU citizens on consular lists of EU Member States' Embassies.

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