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Chilean Earthquake Damage Estimated at US$30 Bln

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The devastating earthquake and the following tsunami that struck Chile might cost the South American country about US$30 billion, the Chilean government said Wednesday.

The estimated loss comes from reconstruction of public and private sectors, the rubble cleaning and operative expenses, as well as the decline of the country's economic growth this year which equals to more than US$7 billion.

There are five financial sources to cover the cost: fiscal austerity, state savings, donations from the private sector, public bonds and tax adjustment for big companies, Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said.

Meanwhile, losses in trade and industrial sectors are expected to reach more than US$5 billion, Finance Minister Felipe Larrain said, adding that rebuilding houses may cost nearly US$4 billion.

The Chilean government has set June 11 as the deadline to implement the emergency housing solutions for the quake-affected people.

Damage in health sectors were estimated at US$2.773 billion. Some 130 hospitals, or 70 percent of the hospitals in the affected regions, were damaged by the quake.

Losses in education sectors reached about US$3 billion. About 45 percent of the 8,917 schools in Valparaiso and Araucania were damaged by the earthquake and about 590,000 students remained out of school.

The government has set up a fund of US$20 million to repair municipal schools and set up temporary schools. And it will also offer monthly subsidies to 20,000 students of higher education, each with 60 dollars for six months, in the most affected zones.

Damage in public infrastructure was estimated at US$1.5 billion with the highways and ports being the most affected. Losses in the fishing sectors amounts to 40 million dollars with more than 2,000 ships damaged by the quake and tsunami.

The Administrative Corporations of the Judicial Power said that about 199 buildings were damaged and the costs would amount to US$75 million.

Losses in agriculture sector would reach US$601 million, the Finance Ministry said, adding that irrigation systems in 56 percent of the affected zones in rural areas had been affected.

The government will create 600,000 jobs to boost employment and provide 4,000 shares of subsidies which equals to 40 percent of the minimum income for the affected people for four months, as well as a training bonus between US$100 and US$600.

The government also announced that it would create 20,000 jobs in reconstruction with minimum salary.

The earthquake may cause a one-percentage decline in the Chilean economy, the country's study center Libertad y Desarrollo said on March 7.

The Chilean government said it had received US$41 million of international donations.

(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2010)

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