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Plane crash kills nine in wake of Chile quake -

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MARK COLVIN: In Chile aid efforts are gaining momentum with promises rolling in from the
international community. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to touch down in Chile
later today and Australia has pledged $5 million in initial assistance.

It's emerged that an expedition to survey the damage left by the earthquake and the tsunami has
ended in more tragedy. Nine people have died in a plane crash on an expedition to check on
university students in the south of the country.

Sarah Dingle reports.

SARAH DINGLE: The University of San Sebastian is one of Chile's largest private universities. It's
based in Santiago but has campuses in quake-ravaged Concepcion, Valdivia and Osorno as well as
Puerto Montt in Chile's extreme south.

The Chilean ambassador to Australia Jose Luis Balmaceda says nine people from the university's
board went on a mission to inspect and lend assistance at some of the university's southern

JOSE LUIS BALMACEDA: It was a private airplane that was carrying board of one of the most important
universities. And unfortunately the plane crashed and nine people passed away. They were half of
the board of this university.

SARAH DINGLE: So they were going to check up on their campuses and their students?

JOSE LUIS BALMACEDA: Yes, yes. I only know that the plane crashed before landing in one of the
places where they have a campus.

SARAH DINGLE: Mr Balmaceda says the Chilean Government's latest estimate is that 80 per cent of the
country has been affected by the quake and the tsunami. He expects the death toll to rise to above
1000 in the next few days.

He says some of the areas of greatest need are the hospitals. Eight hospitals have been completely
destroyed, 10 are partially destroyed and patients who survived have had to be evacuated. Each
hospital catered for between 200 and 400 patients.

JOSE LUIS BALMACEDA: One of these hospitals that completely destroyed and 10 per cent of the people
passed away. The hospitals that were completely destroyed were from Putaendo, Angol, Lebu, Parral,
Curico, Hualane, Lota and Hualpen which are the most affected places in the south of the country.

They have been attending on the street and others were sent to schools or social clubs or private
houses. But the size, the dimension of the damage in some locations are so devastating that not
even the schools or the social clubs or the private houses remain.

We have 700 kilometres of full disaster. So in 700 kilometres you have a large number of cities, of
villages almost fully destroyed not only by the earthquake but by the tsunami.

SARAH DINGLE: In villages like seaside Lloca fishing boats are still piled up on top of cars after
the tsunami. Locals say three days later the first shipments of aid are now arriving. But some are
panicking about the future.

MARTHA GONZALEZ (translated): We received flour, milk, and beans and a box of tomatoes.

MIRIAM HERNANDEZ (translated): We don't just live on food and water. We have other needs because we
live here. Our husbands are fishermen. What is going to happen now?

SARAH DINGLE: Pledges of aid are rolling in from the international community, particularly from
neighbouring Latin American countries Brazil, Argentina and Peru. Hillary Clinton is due in Chile
tomorrow and the US has already promised water purification systems and a field hospital.

The Prime Minister of Peru Javier Velasquez says Peru will focus on sending surgeons. Australia has
pledged $5 million in aid. Acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean.

SIMON CREAN: One million immediately in terms of the emergency relief and essentially also
including supplies of portable generators and power and lighting so that communities can try and
get back to some sort of normal operations; $4 million in reconstruction assistance following
detailed needs assessment when we talk through that with the Chilean authorities.

SARAH DINGLE: In nine days' time Chile will formally undergo a change of government with the
socialist President Michelle Bachelet vacating her seat for the conservative Sebastian Pinera.

Ambassador Balmaceda says the change won't cause confusion for aid operations.

JOSE LUIS BALMACEDA: I assume that because of the tragedy that the country is having we're going to
have a very low-profile ceremony. But the most important thing is that the present Government and
the new Government have been working together since the very first minute. Both presidents have
been meeting every day, almost every day. And this is a quite important sign for the Chilean

MARK COLVIN: Chilean ambassador Jose Luis Balmaceda speaking to Sarah Dingle.