Chile relief efforts underway

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Norway has long had close ties with Chile, and the devastating earthquake that hit the South American country is mobilizing relief efforts by Norwegians and Chilean immigrants in Norway as well.

Several groups made up of immigrants from Chile have been holding emergency meetings to organize aid for the stricken country. One group told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that they plan to organize shipments of clothing, non-perishable food and other household items to help those who lost everything when one of the most powerful earthquakes ever hit Chile on Saturday.

Norwegian aid organizations were also standing by but waiting to send aid until concrete requests came in from the Chilean authorities. As Orlando Bernal, an immigrant in Norway, told newspaper Aftenposten, people in Chile “grow up in an earthquake culture” and local authorities are prepared themselves. The degree of destruction from this quake, however, was expected to need foreign aid.

Norway’s Foreign Ministry said around 300 Norwegians reside in Chile and had registered with the Norwegian Embassy in Santiago. With phone lines down, it was difficult for the embassy to contact them and learn how they’d fared. The Foreign Ministry organized crisis lines in Oslo to help families make contact. Marte Leberg Kopstad told Aftenposten the ministry was in contact with the embassy but it was sporadic.

Several Norwegian companies operate fish farming operations in Chile, mostly in Puerto Montt, around 500 kilometers south of the quake’s epicenter in Concepcion. Marine Harvest has 700 employees, for example, and Cermaq around 1,500. A Marine Harvest spokesman said it had been difficult to make contact with the Chilean operation because phones weren’t working, but an e-mail eventually arrived reporting that Puerto Montt had escaped serious damage.

Other companies struggling to assess damage and injuries at their operations in Chile included SN Power and Austevoll Seafood.

Views and News staff