Saturday, May 21, disaster struck the South American country of Chile, and persisted for at least six days.
Saturday, May 21, disaster struck the South American country of Chile, and persisted for at least six days. Earthquakes and lava-spewing volcanoes toppled buildings and buried farms and homes. Thousands died - the exact figures have yet to be published - and at least a million were made homeless.
On the coast, tidal waves thrashed at dock and harbour installations, ripping them apart, scattering the debris. Six volcanoes of long standing spouted ashes and red-hot lava and a new one was born amid the terror and destruction.
Heavy rains added to the misery of thousands sleeping in the open, their homes destroyed. Whole towns and villages disappeared into the gaping earth.
Islands off Chile have suffered as much as the mainland. On one of the small Chile Islands all 150 inhabitants are missing after a violent tidal wave swept the island.
Large tracts of the countryside are covered with volcanic ashes and in the Cautin Province, birthplace of the new volcano, the terrain sunk as much as 1,000 feet over a 25-miles stretch.
Other Pacific islands and nations have suffered with varying degrees of severity - in Hawaii fifty people are missing or dead, millions of dollars worth of harbour installations damaged. Japan - tidal waves made many homeless, hundreds of casualties reported. Australia and New Zealand mildly hit by heavy seas. Los Angeles USA - ships and small boats dashed to pieces by tidal waves.
But of all Puerto Montt, central city of the Chile province that spawned these earth shocks, has suffered greatest. The port city lies in ruins. Half the houses have crumbled into dust, troops patrol against looters. Electricity and water supplies severed.
But help has been fast coming from US Aur Force units in the area. And from the USA dozens of planes are flying field hospitals and supplies to stricken Chile.