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Chile: Tsunami Strikes Juan Fernández Islands

Another Chilean island territory, the Juan Fernández Islands located closer to the Chilean coast at a distance of 667 km, was not spared from the effects of the waves caused by the powerful earthquake. Due to their closer proximity, there are confirmed reports of destruction and deaths caused by a tsunami. Many are reporting that residents were not warned with ample enough time and as a result were unable to evacuate to higher ground.

Many Twitter users who had friends and family on the islands were once again desperately searching for information on Twitter [es] for their whereabouts. Once some of them were able to get in contact with the person they were looking for, they shared their information on Twitter.

The brother of Pedro Huichalaf (@Huichalaf) had been on the island with his girlfriend. Huichalaf was finally able to get in touch [es] with him after many uncertain moments [es]:

me comuniqué con mi hermano que está en Isla de Juan Fernández . Dijo que tsunami fue avisado muy tarde

I was in communication with my brother who is on Juan Fernández Island. He said that the tsunami was announced too late

Mi hermano q está en Isla Juan Fernández dijo q alarma de tsunami fue tocada cuando ola se acercaba

My brother who is on Juan Fernández Island said that the tsunami alarm was sounded when the wave was approaching

He also shared the phone number where individuals could call to get in touch with family and friends using the phone at the Civil Aeronautic station on the island, where they took turns to receive and make phone calls [es].

When word did get out about the names of the confirmed dead, many Twitter users like Mauricio Almazan (@mauro009) acknowledged the passing of a friend who was studying on the island [es], as did Francisca Ulloa (@franuyeah) who also lost a friend [es], who was working as a marine biologist on one of the islands. Hector Zamora (@melonzamora) lost a relative [es]:

la ola de juan fernandez se llevo a mi primo :( y aparecieron alrrededor de 20 cuerpo no identificados

the wave at Juan Fernández took my cousin :( and around 20 unidentified bodies appeared

Zamora also had a list of those confirmed dead [es], as many other Twitter users had been asking him for information [es]:

tengo una lista de 7 muertos y varios desaparecidos pero no entiendo bien la letra de mi mama que esta llorando por mi primo

I have a list of 7 who died and many who have disappeared, but I can't read the handwriting of my mother who is crying over the death of my cousin.

However, his sadness turned nearly 15 hours later, when he received the news that they found his cousin alive [es]. The waves had carried him to other side of the island, and which was very good news for his family after the initial news that he had passed away.

When word got out about the tsunami and the damage and death caused by the waves, many like Felipe Parra (@Kaosrq) were left asking on Twitter [es], “Anybody know why the people of Juan Fernández and Talcahuano (another affected area) were unable to be warned?” The National Office of Emergency (ONEMI) placed the blame on the Chilean Navy [es], who in turn, said that it was not part of their responsibilities to provide warnings. The Navy said it only transmits information about sea levels. However ONEMI said that some of the Naval instruments had failed that day and provided faulty data [es].

Regardless as who is to blame, many Chileans on the mainland lament the loss of life and that they were unable to be warned in time. Juan Pablo Mena (@Somosmarketing) writes:

no me explico como los hab de Juan Fernandez se sienten chilenos, si no fuimos capaces de alertarlos del riesgo de maremoto

I can't explain how the residents of Juan Fernández feel like Chileans, if we are not capable of alerting them about the risk of a tsunami

2 comments

  • […] is holding its annual conference in Santiago, Chile, in May — has posted two blog round-ups, here and here. And Boston-based GlobalPost has uploaded a number of stories and photos from the scene […]

  • Thank you Eduardo for the news. Our non-profit organization is taking donations that will be given to the families to support the rebuilding on the Juan Fernandez Islands. We have been working on the islands for over 10 years to build local capacity for conservation. We have biologists and many friends on Robinson and Selkirk.

    Please share this opportunity to help as you feel appropriate.

    http://www.oikonos.org/juanfernandezislandsfamilies.htm

    Gracias,
    Michelle Hester, President of Oikonos

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