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Chile Quake: World Vision Begins Relief Efforts

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SANTIAGO, Chile (March 1, 2010) - World Vision began distributing hundreds of blankets and some water containers to Santiago's earthquake survivors over the weekend as it prepared to start an extensive response in the hardest hit areas south of the capital. Many of the communities where the aid group already works -- including Lota City, Temuco, Concepcion and other areas in the Bio Bio region and the La Araucania region -- were close to the devastating quake's epicenter.

Late Sunday, World Vision flew a team of six relief and logistics experts from Santiago to Concepcion to assess the severity of the damage and to verify the safety of staff and community members that have so far been cut off from communication or road access. The team will also open a second operations center in the south to coordinate with the agency's relief teams in Santiago.

The Christian humanitarian organization has prepositioned relief supplies in its Santiago warehouse, and plans to purchase additional high-priority supplies in country, including water tanks, water purification tablets, cooking items, hygiene kits, blankets and lanterns. These items will be rushed to communities in the Concepcion area as soon as air transport can be arranged. Meanwhile, the agency is working to bring in additional supplies from its regional warehouses, including one in La Paz, Bolivia.

In the five communities just outside Santiago where World Vision is responding, aid workers reported that many houses had collapsed completely, while others were still standing but too damaged for people to safely inhabit. There was no water or electricity service Sunday. Children were acting fearful of closed -- in areas and hundreds of families were still sleeping on the streets, the relief teams reported. The start of the new school term has also been postponed because of expected structural damage to school buildings.

While the needs in areas south of the capital are expected to be far more critical, children and families in the Santiago region require food, first aid and hygiene kits, water, water containers, disposable diapers, plastic sheeting, candles, batteries, flashlights, blankets and sleeping bags, staff said. Survivors also need medical attention, damage evaluations of their homes and psychosocial support for children.

"We are extremely concerned about the emotional impact of so many aftershocks on children. Not only the physical needs, but the psychosocial needs of children in the quake zone will be a priority once the full extent of the needs are known and we can begin delivering much-needed supplies," said Tatiana Benavides, World Vision's national director in Chile.

World Vision has worked in Chile for 30 years and has more than 100 staff in the country, reaching about 100,000 children and adults with education, microfinance, job training, and sustainable development programs. The public can help by visiting www.worldvision.org, calling 1.888.56.CHILD or texting "CHILE" to 20222.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

CONTACT: Rachel Wolff 253.394.2214

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