Firefighters wait for the arrival of a military helicopter carrying aid in Dichato, Chile on Wednesday. The government deployed thousands of army and navy troops throughout the country's central coastal region to contain looting and clear the way for aid to be distributed. ((Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press))

Chile's reconstruction effort following the weekend earthquake that killed over 800 people and damaged over 500,000 homes will take at least three to four years, President Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Saturday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake caused an estimated $30 billion US in damage, and Bachelet said the country would likely need access to international credit to rebuild the country's infrastructure.


If you were in the quake zone — or have relatives who were — tell us  about your experience.

Chile's rebuilding price tag is more than double the estimated $8.1 billion to $13.9 billion US cost of reconstructing Haiti.

Chile, however, is in a far better position to rebuild than Haiti because of its stronger economy: Chile's GDP was about $170 billion US in 2008, according to the World Bank, while Haiti's GDP in the same year was just $7 billion US.


Canada's Foreign Affairs Department says those seeking information about Canadians in Chile can call 613-943-1055 or 1-800-387-3124.

The quake and subsequent tsunami ravaged coastal towns along a 700-kilometre stretch of Chile's Pacific coastline, downing bridges, damaging roads, and making travel and the delivery of aid difficult until Wednesday, when relief workers began to be a more noticeable presence in villages and the southern city of Concepcion, among the major cities that bore the brunt of the damage.

Powerful aftershocks continued into Wednesday, however, causing renewed panic in devastated fishing villages and coastal towns, and sending people running for higher ground, although there was no tsunami alert.

Death toll rises to 802

The official death toll reached 802 on Wednesday, as search and rescue workers continued to sift through fallen and damaged buildings for survivors.


A home lays damaged after an earthquake in Llico, Chile after the 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday, causing widespread damage. ((Aliosha Marquez/Associated Press))

The arrival of food aid and an increased military presence on the streets of Concepcion curtailed further looting after the relative chaos of Sunday and Monday, but nighttime curfews remained in effect in an effort to curb any further outbreaks of lawlessness.

Bachelet had said on Wednesday the country was not facing shortages of food or fuel, but continued to call for aid in the form of medical supplies and infrastructure and communications support for her country.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Department also said the government has located 928 Canadians and is looking for another 138 Canadians in the region.

Ottawa said on Tuesday it will provide $2 million in humanitarian assistance to Chile to aid relief efforts, joining the U.S., China and a number of other countries pledging help.

With files from The Associated Press