Caritas struggles to reach rural Chileans after earthquake

Caritas struggles to reach rural Chileans after earthquake

Written by Barbara J. Fraser, Catholic News Service ,

Residents prepare food outside their damaged home in Constitucion, Chile, March 2. The 8.8 magnitude quake that struck central Chile early Feb. 27 left more than 700 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. (CNS photo/Mariana Bazo, Reuters)
LIMA, Peru - While media attention focuses on looting and relief efforts in Concepcion, the largest city near the epicenter of a magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile Feb. 27, Catholic Church workers are struggling to reach quake victims in rural areas.

“We are receiving funds to help the poorest people, who are in the countryside,” Fr. Waldo Alfaro, head of the Caritas Chile office in Linares, said March 1 in a telephone interview. Linares is in the Maule region, where most of the quake deaths occurred.

“The entire coast was hard hit, but this is an area where the poorest rural residents live,” Alfaro said. “Aid is not reaching them because these are very small villages.”

The death toll was nearly 800 on Mar. 3, with 542 of the confirmed deaths in the Maule region, but many people were still missing and some bodies were unidentified.

Three trucks left Linares early March 2 to distribute supplies, especially food and water, to residents of far-flung villages in the farming region.

The greatest need is for milk, water, food, fuel and cots for victims, as well as assistance in rebuilding houses that collapsed in the quake, Alfaro said.

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