Earthquake and Tsunami in Chile - Disaster Chronicle and Lessons Learned

On February 27, 2010 Chile was struck by a 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit coastal areas in a long stretch of the country. The most affected regions were Maule and Bio Bio, with heavy loss of lives and public and private property, and major damage to the health infrastructure. This earthquake has been considered one of the five most powerful recorded in modern history.

PAHO/WHO and the Ministry of Health decided that it was necessary to prepare a technical paper as a chronicle, describing the facts, analyzing the impact and the country's and international response to the health sector. Secondary sources were used to gather information for the document--emergency regulations, situation reports, preliminary assessments, records and minutes, among other documents-- as well as interviews with different authorities and health teams in Santiago, Talca and Concepción, and wil ONEMI authorities from Maule and Bío Bío.

The first chapter of the publication describes the demographic, social, economic and seismic aspects of the country, a description of the earthquake and tsunami, as well as the damage caused by the event and its economic impact. The second chapter deals with the national response to the disaster, making an overview of the institutions interventions, the needs generated by the event, and identifies critical and facilitating factors of the response. The third chapter describes health sector damages and response to the disaster, including emergency operations to mitigate the impact of the event on public health and for the recovery of the health services. The fourth chapter contains important lessons learned for the health sector.

The publication is available for download (as a PDF file) in Spanish only.