The Embassy of Canada in Chile sent an emergency Task Force on a six day mission to support over 1200 Canadian citizens living or travelling in Chile after the country was hit by a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake.
The natural disaster affected a region spanning approximately 500 km and resulted in the deaths of over 500 people as well as an estimated $30 billion USD in damages. Basic services such as water, electricity and gas were disrupted and thousands of houses, schools and buildings were totally or partially destroyed. No Canadians were injured or killed.
The Task Force travelled by road to the most affected regions to visit the homes of Canadian citizens to ensure that they were safe, and provided food, water, and medication, when needed.
The first team, lead by Consul Natalia Larocque, was based out of the city of Concepción. With a population of one million people, Concepción is located near the epicentre of the earthquake.
Travel was difficult due to severe damage to major infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Over the course of their six day mission, the team travelled to the coastal city of Talcahuano and various cities of the region of Bio-Bio.
The second team, lead by Military Attaché Colonel Laurent Caux and Political Officer Meaghan Pelton travelled along the coast to cities including Constitución and Iloca, which were decimated by the tsunami.
Both teams were struck by the strong sense of solidarity in the affected communities. “Experiencing this magnitude of devastation and loss first hand is something I will never forget” said Natalia Larocque after returning from Concepción. “I was impressed by the way that Chileans are pulling together in the aftermath of this crisis. This resilience and determination to rebuild will certainly help Chile to overcome the challenges ahead,” added Meaghan Pelton.
Embassy staff made contact with over 1200 Canadian citizens listed in the “Registration of Canadians Abroad” database, a site designed to assist citizens in an emergency in a foreign country, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or inform them of a family emergency at home.