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UN Officials:Chilean Gov't Handling Relief Efforts 'Well'

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The Chilean government has responded well in their coordination of relief operations just days after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and has appealed to the international community with "very specific items," UN officials said Tuesday.

"The government itself is in the driver seat," Catherine Bragg, UN assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, told reporters here in a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The Chilean government has made "very targeted requirements" in their request for international aid, which include field hospitals, kitchens, surgical facilities, dialysis centers, generators, satellite phones, and structural evaluation systems, Bragg said.

"The UN did receive a letter, which was also sent to some national governments," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told a news briefing Tuesday, expressing that it contained the "very specific items" the Chilean government requested.

"They are handling the situation well," Bragg said noting Chilean's strong institutions, which has given them the ability to respond effectively.

"We stand ready to help in any way possible," Bragg said of the UN role in coordination efforts. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has deployed a small team to Chilean capital Santiago, she said.

"Depending on how the situation unfolds, we may have a larger coordination," Bragg said.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), some 80 percent of the South American country's population has been affected by Saturday's quake.

The PAHO has reported that the death toll stands at 723 people.

(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2010)

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