Tag Archives: santiago chile airport

Volcanic Eruption Continues to Affect Travel

As reported last week, on June 4, Southern Chile’s Cordón Caulle on Puyehue Volcano’s slopes erupted for the first time in 51 years. Across the entire Southern Hemisphere, the eruption has been causing travel nightmares not only for common journeyers, but also for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who is on a regional tour. He had to bus to Buenos Aires and boat to Uruguay.

This past week, flights were canceled in Chile and Patagonian Argentina, as well as southern Brazil. On Monday another column of ash, shooting eight kilometers (5 mi) into the atmosphere, forced the closures of airports across the Southern Cone, from Santiago to Buenos Aires to Montevideo.

But South America isn’t the only place being affected by Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s fallout. When winds shifted to the West over the weekend, the ash forced Qantas and other airlines to cancel flights in New Zealand and Australia.

Both Chile and Argentina have declared agricultural emergencies in their Lake and Patagonia regions. Lava flows have oozed down the Nilahue River valley. Over five million salmon were relocated when rising river temperatures caused fishkills.

Friday, rain and ash from the eruption caused an avalanche near the (closed) Cardenal Samoré border crossing road, which remains closed. To handle border traffic, the Chilean government has increased the number of ferries on Lago Pirehueico at the Hua Hum pass and has reopened Paso Pino Hinchado. Snows may force the re-closure of these crossings.

Chile’s Emergency Management Agency (Onemi) maintains a red alert for the Lago Ranco and Puyehue areas. Travelers are advised to watch the news for further developments. To keep up on Volcán Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s activity, check Chile’s Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Sernageomin) website. Earthquake Report publishes an up-to-date chronicle of reports of Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s effects in the region.

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.

Chile Update: March 3rd, 2010

Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport has reopened for domestic and international flights— but there’s a catch. Because both the international and domestic terminals were heavily damaged in Saturday’s quake, passengers are being processed outside or in tents. All inbound international flights are stopping elsewhere in Chile first for immigration control and customs. Needless to say, this is causing some serious problems. Check with your airline if you have a flight into, or out of, Santiago. Additionally, there is no ground transportation from the airport, and arriving passengers are being bused to metro stations in the city.

The government has urged people to avoid unnecessary travel in affected regions. Route 5, the main highway between Santiago and the south, is mangled and impassable in several locations (as you can see on this Google map, showing road obstructions and damage throughout the country). Authorities are asking drivers not to use the highway. Gas is also hard to find south of Santiago.

In Santiago itself, however, both the Transantiago and the Metro are operating more-or-less normally. If you are planning on staying in areas near the quake zone, including Santiago, Valdivia, Temuco and Pucón, it’s worth calling ahead to your hotel; since people are leaving quake-ravaged cities for less-damaged ones, and visitors stuck in Chile are having to extend their stay, many hotels are crowded.

The worst-hit areas are still to be avoided. While rioting and looting have died down in Concepción, the situation there remains difficult. Search-and-rescue efforts are still underway in Chillán, the Maule Valley and coastal communities, such as Constitución, Talcahuano and Pelluhue. The Juan Fernández Islands were devastated by tsunami waves and remain inaccessible.

Check back here as VIVA continues to receive more information about the situation in Chile.

Chile Earthquake – Resources for the Aftermath

To find a missing person, or if you have information on the whereabouts of someone in Chile, go here:


The Santiago International Airport sustained significant damages.

As of 7pm Sunday Feb 28, it is reported by Santiago newspaper El Mercurio that all airports in Chile are open. Though, reportedly Santiago is not operating at full capacity.

Here’s a video showing the damage and the hours after the earthquake.

Santiago, Chile airport damage after the earthquake