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Harper: Canada Ready to Assist Earthquake-hit Chile

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Saturday that Canada stands ready to provide any necessary assistance to the people of Chile which was hit by a significant earthquake hours ago.

"On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by the serious earthquake which has struck Chile," Harper said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile as they respond to this emerging natural disaster."

He said the Canadian officials in Santiago, capital of Chile, are contacting appropriate authorities to determine whether Ottawa' s assistance may be required.

Assessing the damage extent and potential impact on Canadians currently in Chile, Canadian officials are also closely monitoring the potential implications of the tsunami warning that has been issued across the Pacific Ocean, Harper added.

A magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck Chile early on Saturday, killing at least 122 people, knocking down homes and hospitals, and triggering a tsunami that rolled menacingly across the Pacific, reports from Santiago said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2010)

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