Employees of Chile's emergency response offices have been charged after misinforming the public that there was no threat of a tsunami that killed 156 people, writes guest blogger Steven Bodzin.
• A version of this post ran on the author's blog. The views expressed are the author's own.
Monday and Tuesday, Chile charged eight emergency response bureaucrats with negligent homicide for calling off a tsunami warning after the 8.8-magnitude earthquake of Feb. 27 2010.
That quake sloshed the Pacific ocean so hard that it generated a tsunami wave so high that it soaked land as much as 20 meters above sea level and hundreds of meters inland. The wave killed 156 people and left 25 missing. But even as the wave was hitting towns and villages, emergency response agencies were saying there was no tsunami. This week, some people in charge of the agencies were charged with negligent homicide in a trial that is drawing national attention. Some Santiago newspapers are blogging the trial live; here is La Segunda’s version [in Spanish].
Among other tidbits already to emerge from the trial, according to La Segunda (translation mine):
Neither the University of Chile Seismic Service nor the regional emergency response offices had night shifts on duty the morning of the mega-quake and tsunami…