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Afraid of Aftershocks, Chileans Sleep Outdoors


CHILE EARTHQUAKE: Chileans fearful of aftershocks slept outside Sunday, a day after a massive earthquake shattered the country's central region.
The 8.8 magnitude quake struck the South American nation before dawn Saturday. It has been followed by at least 87 strong aftershocks, including one with a 6.9 magnitude. The quake has killed more than 300 people and damaged as many as 1.5 million homes. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile, where the quake toppled buildings, overturned cars and brought down power and phone lines. Bridges fell and many streets were covered with rubble. Fires were reported. Several hospitals collapsed. The earthquake has raised a daunting first challenge for billionnaire Sebastian Pinera, who was elected Chile's president in January. He takes office in two weeks.

EARTHQUAKE REACT: The international community is offering support to Chile in the wake of Saturday's devastating earthquake. U.S. President Barack Obama says he has reached out to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to offer U.S. assistance with the rescue and recovery efforts. He says the U.S. has resources positioned to deploy to Chile should that government ask for help.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is coordinating closely with senior Chilean officials. Clinton said she would leave as scheduled Sunday on a trip to South America which includes a stop in Chile.
The European Union has pledged $4 million in immediate aid to the South American nation. EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso described the money as a "first step" to "relieve suffering and to meet the immediate needs."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his condolences for the loss of life in the earthquake. He said he is seeking an assessment of the situation from the U.N.'s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is based in Chile's capital, Santiago. The Organization of American States also offered its solidarity to the Chilean people. OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza, who is from Chile, said the country can count on all the cooperation that the OAS can provide.


TSUNAMI: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in the U.S. island state of Hawaii has canceled a Pacific-wide tsunami alert issued after the deadly earthquake in Chile. The Center lifted the warning Sunday after waves of about one meter were reported as far away as Japan and Russia. The waves were smaller than predicted There were no reports of significant damage or injuries in the Pacific region, after hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from coastal areas in various countries, including the Philippines and New Zealand. However, the tsunami killed at least five people on an island off the coast of Chile, and 11 others are reported missing on Chile's remote Robinson Crusoe island.

AFGHANISTAN: The Afghan government has begun taking over the U.S.-run detention facility at Bagram Air Base. Afghan Deputy Justice Minister Mohammad Qaseem Hashimzai told reporters in Kabul Saturday the process will take up to a year. The U.S. military will train about 300 Afghan soldiers as wardens before they can take charge of the prison. The prison, near the Afghan capital, has been used to hold suspected militants captured during the U.S.-led offensive against the Taliban beginning in 2001. A new prison facility was opened last November, and was designed to provide better living conditions for inmates than the previous jail.Human rights groups charged that prisoner abuse was taking place at Bagram, including beatings and lengthy detentions without charge.


OLYMPICS: Host Canada has made a stunning late run of victories at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to tie the all-time record for the most gold medals won at a Winter Games at 13. Canada won three gold medals in one day (Saturday), an unprecedented feat in a Winter Games. Canada won its second consecutive gold medal in men's curling Saturday with a 6-3 win over Norway.
After failing to win a single gold medal in the previous two Olympics Canada hosted - 1976 Montreal and 1988 Calgary - it now has 13 to match the former Soviet Union in 1976 and Norway in 2002. While Canada has 25 medals overall, the United States is tied for the all-time record in total medals with 36, and is guaranteed at least a silver medal in men's hockey. The U.S. faces Canada, which hopes to win a record 14th winter gold medal.
The U.S. currently has nine gold, 14 silver and 13 bronze medals. Germany has 29 overall, with 10 gold, 12 silver and seven bronze.

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