Lessons Learned Limited Chile Quake Damage

Saturday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile is tied for fifth place on the list of most powerful quakes ever recorded, 500 times more powerful than the one that shook Haiti last month.

Though the death toll is still rising, CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports lessons learned decades ago will prevent the casualties in Chile from reaching anywhere near the estimated 220,000 killed in Haiti.

Unlike in Haiti, the epicenter of Saturday's quake was 70 miles off Chile's coast, far from big cities. Also, the quake struck 22 miles underground.

Another difference here is past experience.

In 1960 Chile was rocked by a magnitude-9.5 earthquake -- the most powerful in recorded history. It killed more than 1,600 people.

Paul Simons, U.S. Ambassador to Chile explained that the experience "motivated the Chileans to build to a more sophisticated standard in the future so the housing stock, the building stock, is very, very earthquake-resistant."

Another earthquake in Chile in 1985, California's 1994 Northridge quake and another in Kobe, Japan in 1995 have all yielded valuable information needed to reinforce building codes.

"In particular one thing that is good about Chilean construction is that they build reinforced concrete buildings with lots of walls entirely made out of concrete," explained Eduardo Miranda, who teaches civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University.

Chilean officials estimate at least half-a-million homes have been severely damaged, with about 2 million people affected. It's a large-scale disaster, but not a repeat of what happened in Haiti.


More Coverage:
Sec. Clinton's Latin America Trip Includes Chile
Google Launches Chile Quake People Finder
Chile Quake Doesn't Compare to 1960 Horror
Tsunami Hits Hawaii, Minimal Damage
Geophysicist: Chile Shock Released 500x Energy of Haiti Quake
Quake Witness: A Roar Like a Freight Train
Images From Chile Earthquake
Video: Chile in a "State of Catastrophe"
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