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Emergency telecommunications
ITU sends aid to Chile after earthquake
Photo credit: AFP

ITU has sent 25 satellite terminals to help restore vital communication links in the aftermath of the massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile on 27 February 2010, killing more than 700 people and cutting communications links in the city of Concepción and towns along the coast. It came only a few weeks after the tragic earthquake in Haiti, to which ITU also sent aid (see article in ITU News of March 2010).

The equipment was flown from Geneva to Chile on 1 March. ITU is working in partnership with Iridium Communications Inc to ensure connectivity for satellite phones, which will be used by local authorities to facilitate humanitarian assistance to disaster victims. ITU covers all expenses relating to the transport, deployment and use of the equipment, which will be at the disposal of the authorities in Chile for as long as they need it.

“Our hearts go out to the government and the people of Chile, who find themselves having to deal with a devastating tragedy,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “We will continue to actively contribute assistance in partnership with our membership.”

Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau commended Iridium for its assistance that has facilitated rapid deployment of equipment and air time to support first responders, rescue workers, and relief teams in Chile.

“Communication networks were disrupted by this massive earthquake, hampering rescue operations and the delivery of essential logistics and services,” said Mr Al Basheer, and the equipment sent to Chile will help to meet vital communication needs.

ITU’s Area Office in Santiago, Chile, is providing on-the-ground expert support to local authorities, as well as to the United Nations Operations Centre, to coordinate restoration of damaged communication systems and to manage the radio-spectrum requirements for wireless systems used by humanitarian agencies.


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