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Earthquake toll continues to rise in Chile

More than 700 people are now feared dead in the massive earthquake that rocked Chile, while tsunami fears never materialised.

The Swiss embassy in the Chilean capital, Santiago, also suffered heavy damage in the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that has affected more than two million people.

The Swiss foreign ministry said on Sunday that all of the embassy workers are safe but that glass doors had shattered and left portions of the building no longer accessible. The embassy is located in one of the most heavily affected areas of the city.

Crushed cars, fallen power lines and rubble from wrecked buildings littered the streets of Concepción, which has 670,000 inhabitants and lies 115 km southwest of the quake's epicenter.

Swiss humanitarian workers stationed in South America are expected to arrive in Chile on Sunday. The foreign ministry repeated it was still too early to tell if any Swiss had been injured or killed in the disaster while Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said it would take several days to evaluate "the enormous quantity of damage".

The earthquake struck on February 27, more than 30km below the earth’s surface. Some of those shocks have been as strong as 6.9 on the Richter scale. The quake that leveled Haiti on January 12 measured 7.0.

Tsunami warnings were issued for much of the Pacific, including Hawaii and Japan, but the waves proved to be relatively minor, about a metre high when they hit Japan.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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