Chile Update: March 4th, 2010

Rescue operations continue in central Chile, five days after it was struck by a massive earthquake. The Santiago Airport is running a limited schedule, though it is hoped that one of the terminals can be reopened on Friday and 24-hour operation will be resumed. In the meantime, shared vans have started transporting passengers to and from the airport again.

The cellular and land-line phone networks are mostly up and running again, except in the hardest-hit parts of the Bío-Bío and Maupe regions. La Autopista Central, Route 5, continues to be repaired, and detours have been laid out where the road is impassable. Bus service is running again between Santiago and cities to the south, including Puerto Montt, Valdivia, Temuco and Osorno, but with a limited schedule (you can see TurBus’s schedule here).

While the situation in Concepción, Chillán and Talca has improved significantly in the past few days, travel to any of the affected regions is still strongly discouraged. Food, water and fuel are still scarce in the region, and the basic infrastructure to support visitors simply does not exist at this time. Volunteers should not travel to the quake-ravaged regions independently, so that they do not get in the way of the medical teams, firefighters and soldiers currently working in the area.

There are a number of ways for visitors to Chile to help, however. The Red Cross is in dire need of money and supplies, as well as donations of blood, for the quake victims. In Santiago, blood can be donated at the Centro de Sangre, located at Ex-Hospital Militar (Av. Vitacura). Material donations can be left at the Red Cross’s warehouse in Ñuñoa (Seminario 937). If you would like to donate your time, the student union FECh is looking for volunteers to collect and load supplies bound for the south. Stop by their office (Periodista José Carrasco Tapia). Similar efforts are underway in Iquique, Calama, Viña del Mar, Valaparaiso, Puerto Montt, Chiloé, Punta Arenas and elsewhere. For more details, check out the Chile Ayuda website (Spanish-only).

Keep checking back at www.vivatravelguides.com for more updates on the situation in Chile.

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