Chile earthquake: First-hand notes from Camilo of Disorder Magazine


Camilo Salas K. from Disorder Magazine in Chile (a very cool publication about music and culture, in the same eclectic/irreverent vein as Boing Boing) writes to us from the capital city of Santiago:

camilo.jpg The situation right now is very bad. We are getting news of the most bad places (the south center of Chile) and the news is no good. I am listening about buildings on the floor, hospitals with a lot of people and aftershocks. Every 5 or 10 minutes we feel shakes from the earth. Right now I am experiencing a VERY LONG ONE. The news says there are over one hundred dead people and lot of injuries. I have electric light and internet, i can use my cellphone, with some difficulty, but it works.

In the most damaged areas there is no electricity or water, but you can buy food. The supermarkets are full of people, but they are working. The most difficult thing is that we dont have a lot of information about the most damaged places, but suddenly news appears about huge fires last night and people escaping from one of the prisons.

I was sleeping at 3:30 in the morning with my girlfriend. I live in the 10th floor of a 10 floor building and i woke up with a little shake. Then it was growing in intensity, and growing and growing. I get to the door and stay there. I have a lot of confidence in the strength of the building I live in, because nothing happend in 1985, the year we experienced another bad earthquake, and my building was built in the 70s. Chile has a really good earthquake standard for buildings.

So after 3 minutes or something like that, I walked out to the street and there was no light. Everyone in my building was good, afraid but good. I stayed like 4 hours down there listening to the radio, finding out what was going on.

12 hours later I don't now whats going on with the most damaged areas. The roads are cut, and this Monday was the day everyone is scheduled to go back to school.

Universities and businesses have been closed, a lot of people are on vacation, so the authorities are moving everything to the following week.

In the most damaged areas, there are buildings on the floor, houses constructed with lightweight material destroyed, and hospitals with a lot of damaged people.

I saw a picture of the museum of contemporary art and it is really damaged. The airport is not working and on TV they show that everything was on the floor. All the airplanes are detoured to argentina or peru. The old buildings are damaged, and some of the new ones, but in general, Santiago is okay.

One of the the strange things about this earthquake is that almost 80% of the population felt it. The state of emergency is in 5 regions, from the 5th, the metropolitan, and the more damaged ones, Bio-bio and Maule.

I read there was a tsunami alert and one island was striked by a very big wave, but there is no news about tsunamis on continental Chile.

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  1. About the Tsunamis:

    There where no actual tsunamis, but the ocean withdrew in many places and came back as very strong waves.

    Here in the coat arround Valdivia the waves striked quite strong at some places like the coastal lab of the Austral University in Calfuco. luckly the boulding is uppon a high cliff so the waves did not hit it, but there are some boulders blocking the water pumps. In Niebla, a fisher town in the bay area, people got to the hills by advice of the local fishermen who calculated the spedd of the withdrawing sea at arround 10 knots. Waves came, but not as strong as a tsunami.

    Even so, be carefull. Waves get bigger as the travell, so by the time they get to Hawaii, they’ll be much bigger.

  2. Here in La Serena (Five hours to the north by car) has not happened too much mess or disorder. We’re very lucky, internet works, also cellphones and water supply.

    Aguante Chile!

  3. Stay safe! But I have good friend on Robinson Crusoe Island in Cumberland. I’m really worried and can’t get in touch. Has any heard anything about the Juan Fernandez Islands? They were hit with a Tsunami.

  4. Andres, are you by chance the Oceanographer Andres I know from when he lived in Virginia? If so, I have been very worried about you and would love to hear that you and your family are okay!

    Frank D

    1. Sorry, i’m someone else. I hope your aquitance is well.

      Some new info from Chile:

      In Concepción and other destroyed cities people is plundering supermarkets and stores. Some people do it to get food or medicine, but there are lots of other ones who are only taking advantage of the panic and are robbing stuff like tvs.

      Despite there’s benn said there are fuel reserves for arround two weeks, people are flooding gas stations, supermarkets and other stores in cities like Valdivia, wich have no major problems.

  5. I have been watching news about the earthquake since a couple of hours after it hit and if there is one thing that I’ve been surprised about is the solidity of Chile’s infrastructure and institutions. The loss of life is always a sad news, and I have heard of acquaintances of relatives disappearing in the ocean in the off-shore islands of Chile, but considering the magnitude of the earthquake, and knowing things could be a lot worse, I’m just happy that in Chile earthquakes are taken as seriously as they are, and that we have the possibility money-wise to take the necessary measures. The true impact, though, will only become apparent as time goes by.

    I am Chilean, but I live in Japan. I’ve been relying mostly in Twitter and live streams from the national TV channel (albeit unofficial ones in and for news, and my heart goes out to others like me whose families and friends are still in Chile, and about whom news are few and hard to come by.

    I have some friends that were flying to Chile as the earthquake happened, and were greeted in America (where they had connecting flights) with the news that not only Chile had been hit, but that since the airport in Santiago is closed until Monday, they were stuck there, in their case until Thursday.

    Here in Japan there has been some coverage of the earthquake, but it has mostly focused on the Tsunami alerts that have gone around the Pacific. In Japanese news, they say it will hit Japan between 13:30 and 21:00 with waves that go from 50cm to as high as 3m. I don’t know if that can be called a proper “tsunami” (there are all sorts of experts who will decide that), but I know that the sea has taken some victims already, and I don’t think the name is as important as the fact that it can be dangerous.

    Be careful, everyone. And be safe.

  6. My daughter (like me from Germany) currently lives in Santiago de Chile, as an intern for a NGO. Right in the night of the earthquake she and some friends took a long distance bus from Santiago to the south – towards the epicentre.

    I did not know this, and for several hours right after I heard from the quake I tried to reach her both by landline and mobile phone, but I just could not get through for the hours to come, except (in the beginning) on her landline that just was unanswered.

    Later some messages from her chilenean friends and co-workers appeared on her Facebook wall, trying to get in contact with her. I posted my phone number and email adress on her wall, asking for her whereabouts. Almost immediately an ad-hoc network came into life – first one was the boyfriend of one of her friends, who told me both had gone one the bus ride. We found out the route they had taken, could approximate where they had been at the time of the quake – no good news. At least we knew we could not expect them to have any communication infrastructure left intact around them, and that no one from Santiago could contact them.

    I communicated everything we found out on my daughters Facebook wall, so her Chilenean and German friends knew where she probably was. It took some hours, but we finally could get two confirmations from her workplace that she and her friends were alive and well – through a network of text messages, emails, phone calls and the skype network. I was almost relaxed again, when finally a phone call from a Chilenean friend came – she had managed to reach him through her mobile, told him where the bus got stranded, and asked him to call me that everyone was oK. It was good to get all the messages of relief when I posted that on her facbook wall.

  7. I’ve heard that my relatives who have been working in Santiago are fine. Just a little shaken.
    The destruction seems less than I would have expected for such a huge quake (still pretty bad), good building codes may have saved a lot of people’s lives.

    Coming from a country with quite a few earthquakes (up to 6.5, peanuts compared to the Chile quake) I must say that my pulse goes up every time a train goes by my school. That low frequency rumble through the ground always gets me into a defensive “look for a safe place” mode. Bloody Pavlovian conditioning!

  8. The situation was difficult, but Chile is rising. Greetings Camilo, a talented Chilean journalist.

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