Voices From Chile's Quake

An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday. Host Scott Simon hears from Anita Herrera, a hotel operator in Santiago, the capital, and Carolina Millan, who is in Vina del Mar, near Valparaiso on the coast of Chile.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Reports still coming in from Chile about the magnitude of the 8.8 earthquake that happened there early this morning. Anita Herrera is a telephone operator at the Hotel Kennedy in Santiago. It's about 200 miles from the quake's epicenter near Concepcion.

Ms. ANITA HERRERA (Telephone Operator, Hotel Kennedy, Santiago): People were in shock and panic, yelling, screaming, and everything. So we tried to be calm, thats all we can do about it. The only thing we could do for our guests is to give them some water with sugar, sugar water. So, thats it.

SIMON: The Santiago airport has been shut down, leaving people stranded and waiting for news. Cell phone connections are hard to get. So is Internet. That hasn't stopped some people from posting updates to their Twitter accounts. Caralina Milan(ph) has been doing just that. She lives in Vina del Mar(ph) on the coast of Chile.

Ms. CARALINA MILAN: Some of my neighbors, one of them has part of their house pulled down, but not the entire house, and nobody got injured.

SIMON: She says that the quake came near the end of the country's heavy tourism season.

Ms. MILAN: This week there was a big festival going on here in Vina del Mar, probably the most important music festival in South America. So there were a lot of tourists, artists who were participating in the festival, even someone from the States his name was Eliot Yemen(ph) or something, he was participating. And of course there are a lot of people trying to leave.

SIMON: Caralina Milan speaking with us from Chile. You can go to our Web site, NPR.org, to follow the latest updates about the earthquake and its aftereffects.

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