- Title: CHILE: Tour boat operator launches tsunami tours following quake
- Date: 13th April 2010
- Summary: MOTHER AND DAUGHTER LOOKING AT DESTRUCTION
- Embargoed: 30th April 2010 01:44
- Location: Chile
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes,Travel / Tourism
- Reuters ID: LVA3J6HMK2FES3R1UH28WHKUT3B5
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Just over a month ago, tour boat operator Sergio Rodriguez was spending long, leisurely days on his boat La Chilota, ferrying tourists around the historic port of Talcahuano to take in the picturesque coast.
But Chile's massive 8.8-magnitude February 27 earthquake changed all that when it toppled buildings and bridges, split roads and triggered a tsunami.
The tsunami destroyed much of the port, leaving only rubble and debris in place of coastal villages.
Out of the rubble and debris, Rodriguez saw a business opportunity. He quickly evaluated the situation and adapted his operation.
Instead of taking passengers on a tour of naval installations and historic shipwrecks, today Rodriguez takes them on "the tour of the tsunami".
"We are happy that they people leave content, that they leave happy. There is a bit of happy life amid all the misfortune of Talcahuano and what affects our country. We in some way are allowing the people to relax, to forget a little, although everything is in pieces, but they can relax on the water," Rodriguez said.
The number of passengers varies from day to day, depending on the weather.
Many of the local residents who come aboard say they appreciate the opportunity to view the extent of the destruction.
"I live here in Talcahuano but I have not seen this part; the other face which is sad, it hurts, causes a lot of sadness," said Esmirna Faundez.
Another local resident, Eduardo Castro, said that seeing the debris gave him a new level of awareness.
"This is the only part I hadn't seen, but it is something I hope never happens again because the water disappeared and left Talcahuano practically unusable," he said.
Rodriguez charges 1,500 Chilean pesos, or roughly three US dollars, for the tour.
Some passengers said that his profiting from the tragedy has caused some controversy.
"There are people who are opposed to this but it is a way of generating work for people who promote tourism and it is good in that sense because it helps the people with work. In this case, the boat owner does the tour and can provide for his family," said passenger Guillermo Braz.
For his part, Rodriguez is comfortable with his new operation.
"We are not hurting anyone nor are we hiding truths. Simply we are showing what there is and what remains of Talcahuano -- and it is a reality that will accompany us for many years," he said.
Talcahuano was settled by Europeans as early as 1544, but was officially founded as a city in 1764.
It was heavily used by American whaleships in the nineteenth-century.
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