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Chile struck by earthquake

A massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake and numerous powerful aftershocks struck Chile this weekend. At least 711 people have been killed, 500,000 homes destroyed or damaged, and an estimated 1.5 million Chileans affected.

It appears that hardest hit are the towns of Constitucion and Dichato, the city of Concepcion, and the region of Maule.

Electricity and water services are out in parts of the country. President Michelle Bachelet has identified the need for water purification plants. In Concepcion firefighters were distributing water in thermoses and tea kettles. Various charities, including Oxfam, are sending ‘water teams’ to assist in the emergency provision of water.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan owns private water utilities in some of the hardest hit areas of Chile. We are awaiting news of the damage assessments on these utilities, how quickly access to drinking water and basic sanitation services can be restored, and how this will all be done.

Our thoughts at this time are with the Chilean people and the 40,000 Canadians of Chilean descent.