After the 8.8-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck central Chile on the morning of February 27, the country is focusing on cleaning up, getting aid to affected regions and attempting to return to functionality. What do you do if you’re traveling or scheduled to travel in the country?
Citizens of the United States are encouraged by the U.S. State Department to register with its travel registration website to receive updated information on security and travel within Chile. For U.S. citizens in Chile without Internet access, it’s suggested that you contact the U.S. Embassy in Santiago (tel. 56-2-330-3000). Canadians in Chile requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy in Santiago at 56-2-652-3800. For contact information of other embassies in Chile, check this list.
If you’re looking for someone in Chile, or if you’re in country and trying to communicate to folks back home, the Google Person Finder is available for this need. Other options are to contact your country’s embassy or state department.
Strong aftershocks following an earthquake of this magnitude may occur for weeks afterward. The American Red Cross recommends that in the event of an aftershock, people who are outdoors should avoid being struck by falling debris by moving to open spaces, away from walls, buildings and other structures that may collapse. If indoors, get under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there is not a table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows and tall furniture that may fall on you.
WorldNomads.com has put together an extensive list of advice for travelers currently in Chile, from safety tips to environmental hazards. If you have plans to visit Chile in the next few weeks, check out Wendy Perrin’s region-by-region report on where it’s safe to go according to Chile travel specialist Vanessa Guibert Heitner. And guidebook author Wayne Bernhardson has provided first-hand information from his contacts in Chile in his blog.
As the Santiago airport gets back to normal service, some travel may be a bit easier—especially to those areas that were minimally affected by the earthquake and tsunami. According to The Wall Street Journal, the airport has begun to operate national and international flights with restrictions.
Are you in Chile? Please share your tips and experience about the current situation in the comments section.