Posted: Mar 1, 2010 7:30 AM by Associated Press
Chile's president says the massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake created "a catastrophe of such unthinkable magnitude that it will require a giant effort" to recover. President Michelle Bachelet, who leaves office on March 11, says the country will accept some of the offers of aid that have poured in from around the world.
Bachelet has also signed a decree giving the military control over security in the province of Concepcion. Looters pillaged supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and banks there. No food or drinking water can be found in the town.
Firefighters pulling survivors from a toppled apartment block were forced to pause because of tear gas fired to stop looters.
Meanwhile, the death toll has climbed to 708. Officials say 500,000 houses were destroyed or badly damaged.