New fears spread as aftershocks rattle Chile

CONSTITUCION; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was to visit the earthquake-struck Chilean city of Concepcion today to assess its needs as new fears spread among Chileans following three strong aftershocks.

The Navy meanwhile sacked the head of the Oceanography Service, saying he had failed to provide a clear warning of the tsunami that followed Saturday’s 8.8-quake, as criticism grew of the official disaster response.

A first 6.2-magnitude aftershock jolted people awake at 0920 GMT, yesterday just six days after the 8.8-magnitude quake which, along with the tsunami, left more than 800 people dead and some two million homeless.

That was followed by a 6.8-magnitude tremor — one of the strongest of more than 200 to rattle Chile since the weekend — and another measuring 6.6. Some damaged buildings in Concepcion, the country’s second city and worst affected by the big quake, collapsed, but the national emergency services said the aftershocks caused no injuries or serious damage.

Oceanography chief Mariano Rojas was removed from his post yesterday, and the head of the Navy opened an investigation into their response to the catastrophe, an official statement said.

The UN secretary general arrived in Santiago yesterday to assess the damage and meet President Michelle Bachelet and president-elect Sebastian Pinera.

Aftershocks for years?

WASHINGTON: Chileans will be feeling aftershocks following last week’s 8.8-magnitude earthquake for months and possibly years, scientists said on Friday.

“The larger the earthquake, the larger the aftershocks, the more of them and the longer they’re going to last,” said John Bellini, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey (USGS) in Colorado.

“They will wind down in number, but they will probably

be noticeable to people for months and could go on possibly for years,” he told AFP. Chile has been rattled by more than 200 aftershocks since the historic monster quake struck the country six days ago. Several have topped 6.0 on the Richter scale.