- Title: CHILE: Five days after quake, towns without government aid
- Date: 5th March 2010
- Summary: PEOPLE IN LINE WITH BABY
- Embargoed: 20th March 2010 08:35
- Location: Chile
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVAEMYTUYM9AT63MLI9754NNFR4Y
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Finding food is the main worry for people in Chileans towns devastated by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake five days ago.
Humanitarian aid from the government has been slow in reaching towns like Lota and Coronel, both located close the quake's epicenter on the Chilean coast.
Supermarkets and stores have been sacked and set on fire, forcing citizens to look to the private sector for food.
Sergio Bermoner is among those who is critical of the government's reaction to the disaster. He said using community centers to distribute local aid donations was a necessity.
"We saw the need because of the slow reaction from the government. We decided to help ourselves, but the resources run out quickly. We don't have anything," said Bermoner, who used to run a hospital.
In Coronel, people formed long lines outside a fish canning plant owned by the company Food Corp, and residents carried away bags filled with canned salmon and mackerel.
"We were able to appeal to the feelings of some of the private companies and, up until yesterday, we had given food to between 10,000 and 12,000 people," Bermoner said.
Under the eye of security guards, another 150 people waited outside a meat processing plant to collect sausages and other products.
The government says they have handed out about 2800 tons of food, but admits they haven't been able to access some areas.
Chile leveled a curfew and declared a state of emergency in Concepcion, just north of Lota and Coronel, after people sacked markets there.
Local resident Maria Angela said private companies could save some of their infrastructure by donating to hungry residents.
"In the state we are in, I think the private companies have to help us voluntarily, because people are just going to sack them like they doing everywhere. They can keep their buildings from being destroyed. Help from the government is supposedly on the way, but it takes longer than it should," Angela said.
Chile's outgoing president Michelle Bachelet said Thursday the country will need loans and three to four years to rebuild the hundreds of thousands of damaged homes, broken bridges and highways, and cracked buildings.
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