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Chileans scramble for supplies after new quake
by Staff Writers
Iquique, Chile (AFP) April 04, 2014

Drought worsens food crisis in poverty-stricken Haiti
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) April 04, 2014 - The World Food Program sounded an alarm Friday over arid conditions in northwest Haiti that have worsened an already dire food shortage in this impoverished country.

"The situation is worrying," said Peter de Clercq, an official at the United Nations, which runs the international food aid agency.

The Caribbean country "desperately needs food and nutritional assistance," said de Clercq, deputy special representative for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

The UN official, who just completed an overflight of the drought-stricken region via helicopter, said the WFP already has provided food aid to tens of thousands of inhabitants of northwestern Haiti.

Government statistics here showed that about 43 percent of households in Haiti's northwest suffer from food insecurity, compared to a national average of about 30 percent.

Officials at Haiti's National Council for Food Security said on Friday that recurring drought has worsened "chronic food insecurity" in the region, which has had "below average rainfall at least one year out of three" in recent years.

Various UN agencies on Thursday distributed more than 1.5 tonnes of food supplies to some 164,000 people in northwest Haiti and neighboring areas.

Officials said the food shortage and drought, while particularly acute in Haiti's northwest, are being felt in other parts of the country as well.

"There are other regions of Haiti that are in the same situation," said de Clercq, who said there are hundreds of thousands of people still in need of food aid.

"Urgent assistance is needed, but it needs to be long term aid," the UN official said.

Five dead as landslide derails Indonesian train
Jakarta (AFP) April 04, 2014 - A landslide triggered by heavy rain derailed a train as it travelled through Indonesia's main island of Java on Friday, leaving five people dead, an official said.

There were about 250 passengers on the train as it travelled from the city of Bandung in the west of Java to Malang in the east.

The land slipped away from under the tracks as the train was passing through the city of Tasikmalaya at 6:30 pm (1130 GMT), said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Three of the train's eight carriages derailed and five people were killed, he said.

"Three bodies have been evacuated and the two other bodies remain trapped. We are in the process of evacuating them," he said.

The other people on board the train were transferred to other forms of transport, said Nugroho. He did not have information on whether anyone else was injured.

Train accidents are common on Indonesia's ageing and poorly maintained railroad network. Landslides and floods occur frequently during the archipelago's six-month rainy season.

Chileans desperate for supplies stood in long lines outside shops on Thursday after strong aftershocks from a deadly 8.2-magnitude earthquake forced them to spend another night out in the cold.

After six people were killed in late Tuesday's earthquake, northern Chile was rocked by a powerful 7.6-magnitude aftershock Wednesday night, forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes once more.

Yet another one with a magnitude of 6.1 hit late Thursday, off the coast at a depth of 20 kilometers (30 miles), according to the US Geological Survey. The epicenter was 76 km (47 miles) southest of the northern city of Iquique.

President Michelle Bachelet, who was assessing damage from the first jolt, was among those forced to flee as the latest temblor sowed terror among already exhausted and nervous residents in the earthquake-prone region.

The quake Wednesday struck in the Pacific Ocean at 11:43 pm (0243 GMT Thursday), 19 kilometers (12 miles) south of Iquique, the US Geological Survey said.

There were no reports of new fatalities or major damage and authorities lifted a tsunami alert after two hours. Peru to the north did the same.

Residents in Iquique, who now live in fear of more aftershocks, queued up to buy supplies in the city of 180,000 people.

Some 1,500 people stood in front of a supcermarket and cash machines, while drivers lined up to fill their cars' fuel tanks.

Residents reported cases of price gouging, with the cost of bread and water doubling.

Prosecutors ordered the arrest of shopkeepers who inflate prices. Bachelet has deployed troops to the area to deter any looting.

"We are now living without light in some areas and without water for two days," said Mirna Mela, a resident of Iquique. "Shops are not opening, so we can't get supplies."

Power was restored to 72 percent of the Tarapaca region while potable water returned to 67 percent of the area.

- Second night outside -

Dozens of families from Pozo Almonte spent the night in tents put up on the pitch of the Iquique soccer stadium.

Some huddled around bonfires as temperatures dropped to a chilly eight to 10 degrees Celsius (46 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.)

"The earth hasn't stopped shaking. The floor moves every other moment. That's why we're sleeping outside," said Lila Gomez Mamani, a 60-year-old resident of Pozo Almonte, a community outside Iquique.

The poncho-clad Gomez and her family were among them, gathering wood to light a small fire to one side of the field.

"It's the second night we're sleeping here, there's no way we can go home," Gomez Mamani said. "We have not been helped."

Renac Zuniga, an emergency relief official, said authorities were focused on "helping the population as quickly as possible" but acknowledged that Wednesday's aftershock had complicated the situation.

"There are more than 10 aftershocks per hour," said National Seismology Center director Sergio Barrientos.

The first earthquake caused damage in some 2,500 homes in Alto Hospicio, an Iquique suburb, authorities said.

A collapsed wall at a women's prison allowed some 300 inmates to escape in Iquique. Authorities have recaptured 110 of them.

- Past lessons learned -

The earthquakes have rocked Chile just weeks after Bachelet began her second term in office.

The socialist leader's government had been criticized for its response to an 8.8-magnitude earthquake near the end of her last term in 2010.

At the time, authorities called of a tsunami alert, prompting people to prematurely return home. More than 500 people died in the ensuing waves.

This time, however, the evacuations appeared to have gone smoothly, with officials saying lessons were learned from past disasters.

Experts said Chile has yet to experience "the big one," a major earthquake expected to one day hit the country that lies near a fault line running along its 4,200-kilometer coast.

"There are still many areas where there could be an accumulation of energy that could be released in the future," Barrientos said.


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