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Chilean New President Visits Earthquake-hit Regions

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New Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Thursday visited the city of Rancagua, epicenter of Thursday's earthquake, and Constitucion, which was devastated by the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that on February 27.

Pinera, who was sworn in on Thursday, called on the people to stay calm. "The government is going to act always in time and with prevention measures toward situations of catastrophe like the ones we have known, as a way to guarantee in first place to save all the lives we could save and to reach in time and deliver the aid for the people in need," Pinera said.

Rancagua, the epicenter of the 6.9-magnitude earthquake on Thursday, is 90km south to the capital of Santiago.

In Constitucion, Pinera said his government will work day and night to tide over the emergency by "always be near to the people and saying the truth."

With a population of 60,000 inhabitants, Constitucion is the most affected town of the earthquake and ensuing tsunami on February 27.

"The challenge is very big. The damages, besides the losses of lives, have meant a very high cost, in terms of collapsed schools, damaged hospitals, and destroyed houses, and we will have to work together," Pinera said.

Pinera urged the people to be solidary to fulfil the formidable task of reconstruction.

The first measure of Pinera's government will be the delivery of a subsidy of US$80 for the poorest 4.2 million victims of the earthquake.

Pinera also announced a series of changes to the National Budget for 2010, due to the earthquake and the reconstruction tasks.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2010)