The strong earthquake that struck off the Chilean coast last week has so far left upwards of 9,000 people homeless, dramatically increasing previous estimates.
While initial estimates stood at around 3,500, latest figures show a sharp rise as officials scour remote towns in the Coquimbo region, more than 260 kilometers north of the capital, Santiago, where the epicenter of the 8.3-magnitude quake was located.
“We hope that, by Friday, we will have surveyed all of the people who were affected,” Deputy Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy said.
Emergency personnel backed by soldiers were still busy cleaning up the coastal city of Coquimbo, which has turned into a jumble of fishing boats, destroyed houses, vendors’ stands and vehicles washed up by the tsunami waves that followed the quake.
Public Works Minister Alberto Undurraga toured the city on Sunday, and said that only 25 percent of the area’s cleanup work had been completed.
The national emergency service ONEMI reported Sunday that 647 houses were destroyed, 1,183 families were without power and 2,400 were without drinking water.
At least 13 people were killed and four went missing in the temblor, which rocked northern and central Chile on September 16.
The earthquake was the sixth strongest in the history of geologically volatile Chile and the most powerful anywhere in the world this year, officials say.
An 8.2-magnitude quake struck near the northern city of Iquique in 2014. Also in 2010, an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale shook central-southern Chile and triggered a massive tsunami, killing more than 500 people.