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Quake tipped half million Chileans into poverty: govt

by Staff Writers
Santiago (AFP) Jan 25, 2011
The devastating earthquake that struck Chile nearly a year ago pushed half a million people into poverty, raising the percentage of the population living in poverty to 19.4 percent, a government survey released Tuesday has found.

"We are talking about more than three million Chileans who live below the poverty line," said Planning Minister Felipe Kast, presenting the findings at a news conference.

The 8.8 magnitude earthquake and an ensuing tsunami February 27, 2010 claimed the lives of more than 500 people and caused severe damage in central and southern Chile.

The government conducted a survey from April to May to try to measure the quake's socio-economic impact.

Kast said it found that "500,000 Chileans have joined the sad reality of poverty as a result of the quake."

It also estimated that 17.3 percent of the population in the most affected regions lost their homes in the disaster, and the number of people unemployed rose from 620,000 in 2009 to 700,000.

Losses due to the earthquake have been estimated at 30 billion dollars.

Despite the setback, however, the Chilean central bank projects that the economy grew 5.2 percent in 2010, and is on track to grow between 5.5 and 6.5 percent in 2011.

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