Initial aid to hospitals and assessments in areas most affected by earthquake in Chile
3 March 2010
There are currently 14 MSF staff members in Chile following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck last Saturday (Feb 27). Several teams from Médecins San Frontières (MSF) are assessing the needs in the Maule and Bio Bio regions of Chile, both hard hit, and have started supporting hospitals in Curicó and Chillán with medical supplies. The earthquake’s impact zone covers nearly 1,000 kilometers along Chile’s coastal regions; many areas there have yet to be evaluated. Our teams are in contact with the Chilean government, which is managing the response to the disaster. MSF will focus its efforts in the more isolated areas that rescue workers have not yet reached. An MSF team in the Concepción region is planning to travel today with Chilean authorities to assess the situation in the coastal area north of the city. Two other teams are covering the coast in the Maule region, both north and south of the town of Constitución. The MSF teams have also visited hospitals in Curicó and Chillán that have received people wounded during the earthquake and will support the hospitals with medical supplies. In its assessments, MSF staff observed significant damage in several areas, especially along the coast, which was hit both by the earthquake and the large waves it caused. But the damage does not seem to be as widespread, and the roads are in good condition. In some villages, people are sleeping in the streets, either because they lost their homes or because the daily aftershocks have made them afraid to be inside. MSF is also preparing a team of psychologists to provide mental health care to the population, as our workers have met many people traumatized by the earthquake and subsequent tremors. MSF already has 14 staff on the ground: a team consisting of doctors, nurses, logisticians and a coordinator, from Argentina, Bolivia, Panama, Mexico and also Chile.