Chile Earthquake Early Responses: As everyone knows by now, a powerful earthquake, registering a magnitude of 8.8, hit the Chilean South-Central coast Saturday morning at 3:34 AM local time and lasted approximately 3 minutes. It was one of the most intense and powerful earthquakes in recent history and combined with the resulting tsunamis, has caused extensive damage and indiscriminately impacted the lives and families of our employees, customers and business partners.
At this time, we are still assessing the situation, but would like to provide the following updates for everyone. In the Santiago area, INECO has accounted for all our employees. We are making every effort to assist in the search and we hope to have good news soon. Although some have experienced material losses, including significant damage to their homes, our Santiago employees and their families are doing well and in good spirits. Some areas in Santiago continue to be without electricity and water services but they are being restored rapidly.
The damage to our office building in downtown Santiago has been evaluated and we are happy to report that there was no structural damage. We have begun the cleanup process and we hope to be running at full strength tomorrow, Wednesday, March 3rd. We’re also happy to report that our offices in Antofagasta and our partner in Viña del Mar are all doing well and operating with a full staff.
Unfortunately, as many of you have seen in the news, our friends and colleagues in the city of Concepcion are experiencing a more challenging situation. We have accounted for 18 of the 23 employees of our Concepcion office. Communication remains very difficult as phone lines are saturated and people are running out of batteries on their cellular phones.
We will continue to provide any support in the search for our missing employees and their relatives until everyone is accounted for. Basic services are slowly being restored while the immediate concern, looting, has spread to other areas beyond the supermarkets and food stores. Fortunately, federal authorities are beginning to restore order and we hope that this will bring more calm to the city.
Several of our employees in Concepcion did endure some damage to their homes and personal belongings. We are in contact with them to understand how we can assist them immediately. Our employees have also reported that there is no visible damage to our office building in Concepcion. However, at this moment, we are not clear as to the timing of when we will be positioned to re-open the Concepcion office but we will continue to support our customers and any business activity from Santiago.
Many of you, very generously, have asked us about sending aid and donations. If you wish to donate, you may send a check to Human Resources, attention Donna Jett made payable to the INECO Employee Relief Fund. Once the money is received at our local branch, we will be able to transfer this money to where it is needed in Chile for our INECO employees.
We hope to have better news for you in our next update.