Chile asks Canada for help

Chile is asking Canada to provide a field hospital, a pontoon bridge, generators and telecommunications equipment following Saturday's devastating earthquake that killed more than 700 people.
Children sit on a mattress at a make-shift camp in Talca, in Chile, on Monday in the wake of Saturday's devastating earthquake. ((Mariana Bazo/Reuters))

Chile is asking Canada to provide a field hospital, a pontoon bridge, generators and telecommunications equipment following Saturday's devastating earthquake that killed more than 700 people, destroyed 500,000 homes and displaced at least 1.5 million people.

Chile's ambassador to Canada Eugenio Ortega told CBC's Power & Politics that the country doesn't require the food and humanitarian aid that Haiti required after that country's quake on Jan. 12, but that it needs a temporary field hospital with surgical facilities, electricity generators for hospitals, a pontoon bridge and satellite phones.

Chile has sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon asking for a field hospital, a pontoon bridge and telecommunications equipment, the country's ambassador to Canada, Eugenio Ortega, says. ((CBC))

"The situation is very difficult and the human situation is complicated for us," he said.

On Sunday, President Michelle Bachelet outlined those same requirements, as well as water purification plants, damage assessment experts and rescuers to help relieve exhausted workers.

Chilean officials have struggled to assess the damage caused by the massive earthquake and the more than 100 aftershocks that have rumbled through the country since Saturday.

Ortega said he sent a letter Monday on behalf of Chile to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon that specifies Chile's needs, following a phone conversation between Peter Kent, Canada's junior foreign affairs minister for the Americas, and his Chilean counterpart.

The Canadian government has not responded yet with how it will help, but it issued a statement on Sunday saying, "Canada stands ready to provide any necessary assistance to the Government of Chile during this time of need."

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its website Monday that 520 Canadians living in Chile have been located while 337 have yet to be located by family, friends or consular officials.

About 5,000 Canadians live in Chile, and of that 1,000 are in the affected area where the 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck.