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UN Chief Speaks to Chilean President, Reaffirms UN's Support

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UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon spoke with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet over the phone to express his condolences for the quake-hit South American country and to reaffirm the UN's support to help with their relief operations, a UN spokesman said Tuesday.

"In addition to expressing his condolences, he did reiterate that the UN is ready to help and that the UN would do its utmost to make available the items that were requested by the Chilean government as swiftly as possible," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said here at a daily press conference on Ban's telephone conversation with the Chilean President late Monday night.

The Chilean government appealed to the international community in a letter requesting "very specific items" to help in their coordination of relief operations, said Nesirky.

At the press conference here Tuesday, Catherine Bragg, UN assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator said the items requested included field hospitals, kitchens, surgical facilities, dialysis centers, generators, satellite phones, and structural evaluation systems.

According to preliminary evaluations from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the impact of Saturday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake has affected two million people in Chile.

Chile's National Office of Emergency has put the current death toll at 763 people, reports said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2010)