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Chile quake, tsunami damage put at nearly 30 billion dollars

Haiti aid swells US deficit by 2.8 billion dollars
Washington (AFP) March 24, 2010 - President Barack Obama asked Congress on Wednesday to approve the funding of the post-quake US relief effort in Haiti, swelling America's growing budget deficit by an additional 2.8 billion dollars. "This request responds to urgent and essential needs. Therefore, I request these proposals be considered as emergency requirements," Obama wrote in a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The United States spearheaded the massive international relief effort after the January 12 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.3 million Haitians homeless.

A New York donors conference next week is expected to commit 11.5 billion dollars to help Haiti rebuild following the unprecedented disaster that caused 7.9 billion dollars of damage, equivalent to 120 percent of the country's GDP. In September 2009, the United States concluded an agreement with Haiti that eliminated 100 percent of the Haitian government's outstanding debt to the US. The US government registered a record budget deficit in February of 220.909 billion dollars despite rising revenues, setting a record 17th consecutive month in the red. Spending surged notably because of tax credits to individuals and businesses, part of a three-year budget stimulus plan launched in February 2009.
by Staff Writers
Santiago (AFP) March 24, 2010
The massive earthquake that struck central Chile last month, triggering a local tsunami, caused nearly 30 billion dollars in damage, the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Of the total destruction wrought by the February 27 temblor, one of the worst on record,

The government will have to absorb 9.3 billion dollars in costs resulting from the February 27 temblor. The remainder will be picked up by insurance companies (4.9 billion) and the private sector (7.8 billion), the ministry said in a report.

Additionally, the country will take a 7.6-billion-dollar loss to its output, the report said.

President Sebastian Pinera's government has not yet said how it will finance massive rebuilding needs.

The earthquake, which was especially devastating in the Biobio and Maule regions, killed 452 peop0le and left about 100 more missing.

earlier related report
Quake exposed Chile's military weakness: minister
Santiago (AFP) March 24, 2010 - Chile's defense minister said Wednesday he feared that the information and energy blackout which followed last month's massive earthquake showed the country is vulnerable to a foreign attack.

Defense Minister Jaime Ravinet denounced the collapse of the national emergency system in the hours following the quake, which struck at 3:34 am on February 27, in a speech at Chile's Military School.

"It is important to acknowledge that this natural catastrophe demonstrated a weakness in a country that seeks to belong to the First World, that wants to be developed... but where a lack of electricity and communications practically paralyzed us and that could have been from a foreign attack," he said.

The fears are not specious: Chile almost went to war with Argentina over a southern border dispute in 1978, and the conflict was only settled in 1984 after Pope John Paul II intervened.

There was also a war scare in 1979, on the 100th anniversary of the start of a war in which Bolivia lost its access to the sea and Peru lost two provinces to Chile.

In the first hours after the quake information was so sparse that the navy's Oceanography Service failed to provide a clear warning of the killer tsunami that slammed the Chilean coast.

Then-president Michelle Bachelet even went on a national broadcast and told Chileans there was no danger of a tsunami. Some people then went down to the beach, and were caught by the giant wave.

Before leaving office on March 11, Bachelet fired the head of the Oceanography Service and accepted the resignation of the head of Chile's emergency management agency, ONEMI.

The magnitude 8.8 earthquake killed 452 people, according to official figures, and about 100 have been reported missing.

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Afghan avalanche kills 35 people: official
Kunduz, Afghanistan (AFP) March 23, 2010
An avalanche struck a remote mountainous area of northern Afghanistan three weeks ago, killing 35 people and burying homes beneath thick snow, a provincial official said Tuesday. The disaster struck in Badakhshan province in the far north, but harsh weather and the remoteness of the region bordering China, Pakistan and Tajikistan meant it took many days for help to arrive. "An avalanche ... read more

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