SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced Monday new measures to aid those affected by the magnitude-8.4 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that devastated parts of northern and central Chile last week, leaving 13 people dead and forcing more than 9,000 others from their homes.
These measures will include a series of vouchers assigned by the emergency economic Cabinet, which will be in charge of awarding the funds after studying each case to determine which family is eligible for what kind of benefits.
Among the vouchers is one “for household goods” worth 1 million pesos ($1,470) for those who lost everything they had in their homes, and another worth 500,000 pesos ($735) for those who lost part of such possessions, Bachelet said after a meeting with her top aides at La Moneda palace.
The vouchers will be awarded according to the social and housing data being gathered in the affected areas.
“Up to now 1,800 families have been interviewed, which gives us an idea of the magnitude of the damage, and about which homes can be repaired and which can’t and must be demolished, and how great a loss each could signify,” she said.
Another voucher, for 200,000 pesos ($294), will go to “those who have provided shelter for families affected by the emergency,” a benefit that, according to the Chilean president, will be paid the benefactors for three months with the possibility of renewal.
Meanwhile, the emergency economic Cabinet is developing a register of enterprises in the area to help those who lost their businesses or partnerships.
“We know that no measure can compensate for the losses suffered during this new natural catastrophe, but we want people to know that the government is not going to forget them and that we’re going to provide them with enough support to get their lives back to normal,” the president said.
At the same time, “we cannot yet specify how many families will be beneficiaries, nor how much it will cost the government,” Bachelet said.
Separately, Chile’s National Emergency Office, or Onemi, said Monday that the areas affected have entered the stage of rehabilitation.
“We’re moving on from the emergency phase to the rehabilitation phase,” Onemi’s Deputy Director Victor Orellana said.
According to the latest report from Onemi, the number of people affected by the earthquake and tsunami has reached 9,061, while 3,931 homes with minor damage remain inhabitable, 1,280 that suffered greater damage are uninhabitable, and 656 were totally destroyed.