US diplomat says information scarce in earthquake-devastated Chile, no reports of US deaths

Monday, March 1, 2010

US Ambassador: Chile devastated by earthquake

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the United States is ready to work “in solidarity” with the leaders of Chile to provide disaster assistance to the earthquake-stricken country.

Speaking to reporters while traveling in Montevideo, Uruguay, Clinton said the Chileans had asked for communications equipment and said she’ll be bringing some with her when she travels to Santiago Tuesday.

Clinton said more likely will come after that, saying that “one of the reasons they have asked me to continue my trip is to assess whatever else they might need and immediately begin the process of providing it.”

Earlier, U.S. Ambassador Paul Simons said he knew of no American deaths from the earthquake, but stressed that officials were having a difficult time getting information from Conception, the area most devastated by the quake.

In an interview by telephone with CBS’s “The Early Show,” Simons said, “We do not have any confirmed reports of Americans who have died.” He added that while officials have been able to contact “a few” of the estimated 1,000 Americans in Chile, “information is still very, very scarce.”

Simons said that while life is returning to normal in the capital of Santiago, the Conception area near the epicenter of the magnitude 8.8 quake on Saturday suffers from “major devastation,” where power is out and water is in short supply.

will not be displayed