Help is on the Way

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Chile Tuesday to offer the quake-torn country support as it recovers from the deadly disaster.

Tomas Munita | The New York Times

A supermarket after it was looted in Constitucion, Chile after an earthquake and tsunami on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. As Chile grappled with a rising death toll and more reports of looting, three aftershocks struck Monday morning, complicating rescue efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated much of the country on Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived Tuesday in Santiago with pledges of support.

“We brought some satellite phones,” Clinton told Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in a picture-taking session. “That was the one thing we could get on the plane right away.”

Clinton flew into Santiago, delivering much-needed satellite communication equipment and a technician. Chile has also asked for a field hospital and water purification systems.

President Bachelet said that nearly 14,000 army and navy troops deployed throughout Chile's coastal communities had contained a wave of looting and were clearing the way for aid to be distributed.

Speaking in Chile’s capital, Santiago, Bachelet said 50 military flights were deployed with food, water, blankets and medical equipment were headed to the hardest-hit regions.

Concepcion’s curfew

A curfew in the badly damaged city of Concepcion was extended until midday Tuesday, nearly 24 hours after dozens of desperate residents smashed into shuttered stores, running off with whatever they could find.

Hordes of residents armed with shotguns and rocks banded together to protect their quake-stricken homes. A number of people complained that government food aid and other supplies were arriving too slowly.

“We're going to get everywhere with the aid people need,” Bachelet said before meeting Secretary Clinton.

Economic export damage

Chile has the most stable economy and overall status in Latin America, but the massive earthquake and tsunamis have hardened its efforts to recover from a recession brought on by the global economic issues.

Chile accounts for one-third of the global mining of copper and not just the copper miners, but also a number of fortune 500 companies rely heavily on the metal to produce their products could be impacted by the earthquake.

Those include household appliances manufacturers like Whirlpool and General Electric, whose companies demand a lot of copper.

Other Chilean exports -- wine, fruits, and fresh fish products -- were not seriously threatened, according to government officials, but the timing could not have been worse.

Saturday's magnitude 8.8 earthquake comes at the peak of harvest season for Chilean agriculture, and could possibly hurt companies in the region that are part of the Chilean import chain.

The United States imported about $2 billion worth of agricultural products from Chile in 2008, according to federal trade officials.


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