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Red Cross and Red Crescent Support for Chilean Earthquake Operation Grows

GENEVA–(ENEWSPF)–February 28, 2010.  As the death toll from the massive earthquake which struck Chile on 27 February continues to climb – more than 300 people now, the mobilization of the Chilean Red Cross Society (CRCS) and the International Federation gathers pace.

The Chilean Red Cross has been able to establish some contact with its branch offices in the affected zones, where volunteers are providing first aid. This very preliminary information is being compiled and will be released as soon as a clearer picture of the situation emerges. The CRCS has 29 branches in the region of Bio-Bio and 14 branches in the region of Maule, both of which were affected by the earthquake.

In the meantime, the CRCS has launched a domestic appeal to help people affected by the earthquake. According to the government, this number now stands at more than two million.

Through its Red Cross Youth blog, the CRCS has asked all its youth volunteers to report to their nearest branch office to receive instructions and participate in the relief operation.

In the meantime, it continues to broadcast its public service announcements on how to behave when tremors are felt. These recommendations include: stay informed about the situation through the news, be prepared for aftershocks, use the telephone only for brief and urgent messages so as not to overload the lines which are working, stay away from damaged buildings, sleep in a chair rather than in a bed so as to be able to get up quickly should a tremor occur, etc .

The Chilean Red Cross continues to work in close coordination with the National Emergency Office (ONEMI).

Many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have offered support, in the form of cash or experts in disaster response. For its part, the IFRC has released 300.000 Swiss francs (279,000 USD/ 205,000 €) from its emergency funds to support the Chilean Red Cross relief operation.

The head of the regional IFRC office, based in Buenos Aires, is on his way to Chile. He has reached Mendoza, in Argentina, and will drive in to Chile, since the airport in Santiago remains closed. He will join Chilean Red Cross officials in an aerial assessment of the affected regions which will take place later today or tomorrow morning (local time).

A relief team from the IFRC’s PanAmerican Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), based in Panama, is ready to leave for Chile, pending official request and a green light from the authorities. Dozens of delegates from Regional Intervention Teams (RIT), Emergency Response Units (ERU) and Field Assessment Coordination Teams (FACT) have been placed on stand-by should they be needed.

Electricity installations, major bridges and water mains have been damaged, as well as many hospitals. Communications are still very bad and it is impossible to reach the affected area by road.

The Chilean Red Cross has developed community disaster prevention education programmes, in collaboration with municipalities and participated together with the Bolivian and Peruvian Red Cross Societies in a regional disaster preparedness and response plan.

Its main focus of activities is health, especially in the area of blood donation, first aid, mother and child health and the elderly. It has trained emergency health volunteers throughout the country.

 

Source: ifrc.org

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