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Death toll jumps to 708 from Chile earthquake

February 28, 2010 | 12:30 pm
Chile_earthquake Rescuers searched for survivors Sunday a day after one of the biggest earthquakes in recorded history rocked Chile, killing more than 700 people while leaving untold numbers missing and 2 million displaced, wounded or otherwise affected.

The death toll jumped Sunday to 708, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said, nearly doubling as rescue crews reached remote and badly damaged towns.

The 8.8 quake, which hit before dawn Saturday, toppled buildings, buckled freeways and set off sirens thousands of miles away as governments scrambled to protect coastal residents from the ensuing tsunami. Authorities lifted tsunami warnings Sunday after smaller-than-feared waves washed shores from Southern California to Hawaii and Japan.

Chile_quake Looting broke out Sunday in some of the most heavily damaged areas of Chile, where residents were without water or electricity. Crowds overran supermarkets in the port city of Concepcion, which sustained widespread damage, and were making off with food, water and diapers but also television sets. Several banks also were hit. Police in armored vehicles sprayed looters with water cannons and made several arrests, mostly of young men.

"The people are desperate and say the only way is to come get stuff for themselves," Concepcion resident Patricio Martinez told reporters. "We have money to buy it, but the big stores are closed, so what are we supposed to do?"

Continue reading: Rescuers search for Chile quake survivors; death toll jumps to 708, by Chris Kraul.

Photos: A man holds up a Chilean flag in Pelluhue, about 200 miles southwest of Santiago. Credit: Roberto Candia / Associated Press. A woman carries bags of toilet paper in the city of Concepcion the day after the huge 8.8-magnitude earthquake. Credit: Daniel Garcia / AFP/Getty Images