Massive Earthquake in Chile

There has been a massive earthquake in Chile. Please pray for the victims of this terrible disaster and do what you can to support relief efforts.

Rescuers raced against the clock Sunday to save quake victims trapped inside a collapsed apartment block as looters stole food and robbed banks after one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded struck Chile.

There were conflicting reports Sunday on the death toll left by the 8.8-magnitude quake that rocked Chile early Saturday morning. An emergency worker told Reuters that more than 400 people had died, the news agency reported, as search operations and damage assessments continued to look for survivors in the wake of the aftershocks.

The Associated Press reported that more than 300 people had died. More than one million Chileans were affected and 500,000 homes severely damaged by the mammoth temblor.

SLIDESHOW: Photos from Chilean quake

The quake triggered a tsunami that swept across the Pacific, killing several people on a Chilean island and devastating coastal communities near the epicenter. The wave caused little damage in other countries after precautionary evacuations ordered thousands of people to seek higher ground. The tsunami warning was lifted a day after the earthquake.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who leaves office March 11, declared a “state of catastrophe” in central Chile.

“It was a catastrophe of devastating consequences,” she said.

Officials said earlier they had counted 214 dead, but more victims were being found.

“At the moment there are some 300 fatalities,” Jose Abumohor, a duty chief at the National Emergency Agency, said Sunday.

Police said more than 100 people died in Concepcion, the largest city near the epicenter with a population of more than 200,000. The university was among the buildings that caught fire around the city as gas and power lines snapped. Many streets were littered with rubble from edifices and inmates escaped from a nearby prison.

Police used water cannon and tear gas to scatter people who forced open the doors of the Lider supermarket in Concepcion, hauling away everything from diapers to dehydrated milk to a kitchen stove.

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