Oxfam: Staff move in to Chile to assess earthquake damage

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 01 Mar 2010

As details of the impact of the earthquake in Chile are emerging Oxfam’s emergency response team is en route to affected areas and expected to arrive in country today.

Poor telecommunications in Chile are still making it hard to get a true picture of the extent of the damage, but the infrastructure damage to arterial roads and airports is hampering the speed of the response.

Oxfam Australia’s Head of Emergencies Richard Young said access to the affected areas in Chile was still difficult.

“It is deeply frustrating that it can take some time to get our staff to where they need to be. Our team has to drive over the top of the Andes on badly damaged roads to get to Concepcion because the Santiago airport is still closed.

“Until our team has been able to reach the affected area and complete an early assessment, we are unclear how we will best be able to assist the thousands of people affected by the quake.

“In situations like this, the first step is always to assess the damage caused so that we know what people need. This is a vital part of ensuring any aid response is effective and well co-ordinated.

“Chile has an effective emergency response system, and a government that is able to organise relief. At this stage, it is unlikely that we will need to respond in the same way as in Haiti but until our team actually reaches the affected area we will not know for sure,” Mr Young said.

Oxfam continues to respond to the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti.

“We are currently supplying clean water and sanitation to around 170,000 people in Haiti, and will be scaling this up to 500,000 people over the coming months as we prepare for the rainy season,” Mr Young said.

“At this stage Oxfam has not opened an appeal for the Chile earthquake, but people wanting to support our work can donate to the International Crisis Fund, which helps us to be prepared to respond to emergencies.”

For more information or to interview Richard Young, please contact:

Kate Thwaites on +61 407 515 559