When news of an 8.8 earthquake hit the Latin American country of Chile on Saturday, President Obama sent word to President Michelle Bachelet, that the U.S. is ready to help.   Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left Sunday for a planned 5-day trip to Latin America.  She also promised that rescue and recovery support is available.

Thus far, Chile has reported 708 deaths resulting from the earthquake.  Concepcion, population 670,000, was hardest hit.  The quake’s epicenter was reported offshore and 21 miles underground, which was about 200 miles from Chile’s largest city, Santiago.

President Bachelet has ordered the country’s military troops to assist local police in controlling looting.  She has appealed for help from other countries, as well.

Although the earthquake measured stronger than the Haiti quake, the devastation and death count was much higher in Haiti, whose death toll is 220,000.  Millions of persons remain homeless, and still in need of food, water, and shelter.  The location of the epicenter of Haiti’s earthquake was 8 miles underground, and on the edge of Port-au-Prince.  After the Saturday quake, there was the threat of tsunamis as far away as Russia and Japan; however, there have been no immediate reports of serious damage from any countries.

Chile is the wealthiest country in Latin America; Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  Chile has architectural structures that can handle natural disasters better than the buildings in Haiti that were poorly built, and crumbled on top of each other.  February, 2010, has not been kind to our friends to the south.  Help came from all over the world when the earthquake happened in Haiti.  When Chile decides what their main needs will be, dedicated rescue teams and workers of all types will be there.  Thankfully, their infrastructure and government can handle things well, and they are better able to take care of their people.

We pray for the safety of all volunteers who travel to Chile and for the well-being of the citizens of that country.  Let’s hope for peace and quiet for a long time!