The main airport in Chile’s Capital of Santiago allowed on Sunday the first few aircraft to land since the 8.8 mega quake struck the country Saturday morning. No aircraft however have been permitted to take off.
A Lan flight from Lima was the first to land in early afternoon.
The runways according to the Chilean Air Force did not suffer the consequences of the tremor but the Santiago air terminal did experience serious infrastructure damage and airlines booking system was down.
Air Force Commander in Chief Ricardo Ortega said that the “comptrollers’ tower and other security systems were again operational but problems remained for airlines with their systems paralyzed”.
“Some flights have arrived. This does not mean we are back to business as usual, but we are working for landings on stages, probably on days. We won’t have a first quality system but rather provisional terminals to host the arriving passengers”, said Commodore Ortega
Originally the airport was to remain closed for at least 72 hours with flights redistributed to alternative airports in Mendoza, Argentina, Buenos Aires and Lima.
On Sunday afternoon a primary balance of the situation indicated that as many as 2 million people were left without a place to live. An estimated half million homes have been damaged. Much of Chile remains cut-off from the rest of the world. Power, drinking water and communication lines are down.
As phone service is gradually restored the death toll has inched up over 700.
While most of the destruction has centred round the city of Concepcion (population 800.000) to the south of Santiago, the quake was felt in Buenos Aires and even in Soa Paulo, Brazil, up to 1,800 miles away.
The Chilean government has put the military in charge of security in areas where there has been looting. Frustrated quake victims have broken into stores taking food, water bread and other necessities. Some of the looters have also stolen TV sets and home appliances.