National mourning declared in Chile

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National mourning declared in Chile

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Chile has declared three days of national mourning from Sunday after the country’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Authorities say some 280 bodies have so far been formally identified, but the total number of people killed is still unknown. Earlier reports put the death toll at more than 800.

The distribution of aid is being stepped up, amid accusations of slow and disproportionate relief efforts.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said: “Everything possible has been done to get services such as police, firemen and armed forces to the region as fast as possible and where they’re needed.”

A new president is due to be sworn in next week, with a massive task of rebuilding on his hands.

Sebastian Pinera, the president-elect, said:
“Our future government is organising itself, with all possible efforts, to prepare a plan of action to help the victims of this tragedy and at the same time face the consequences with efficiency.”

After days of looting in some of the worst affected areas along the Pacific coast, there is now a heavy military presence on the streets.

Aftershocks continue in some areas, preventing people from returning to their damaged homes.