February 27, 2010

Devastating Earthquake Strikes Chile A deadly, 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday, collapsing buildings, shattering major bridges and highways across a long swath of the country, and sending tsunami warnings along the entire Pacific basin. Chile’s TVN cable news channel reported 122 deaths less than 12 hours after the quake struck. The death toll was expected to rise, particularly around Concepción, Chile’s second-largest metropolitan area, which is roughly 70 miles from the quake’s center. There, cars were overturned, rubble fell into the cracked streets and a 15-story building collapsed, wire services and Chilean news media reported. In the capital of Santiago, about five hours to the north and about 200 miles from the epicenter, frightened residents felt the city shake for nearly 90 seconds. As more than two dozen significant aftershocks struck the region, President Michelle Bachelet declared a “state of catastrophe.” Major airports and seaports were reported out of operation across the central region, Chilean officials said. The Associated Press quoted Mrs. Bachelet as saying that a huge wave had swept into a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Island, 410 miles off the Chilean coast, but there were no immediate reports of major damage there. Those reports bore out early fears that a major tsunami was on its way across the Pacific, and the first hemisphere-wide tsunami warning since 1964 was issued all along the basin, according to monitors in Hawaii.
Muslim Riots Reach Temple Mount The riots that began in Hevron last week reached the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on the morning of the Purim holiday (Sunday). Four police officers were lightly hurt, as were at least 15 Arab rioters. The riots started Monday after the government decided to include the Cave of Patriarchs in Hevron – Judaism’s second most holy site – in a list of national heritage sites to receive extra funding, as well as the Tomb of Rachel the Matriarch near Bethlehem. About 30 Arab Muslim youths threw rocks at visitors to the Temple Mount Sunday. A police force reacted by entering the mosque compound and the Arab attackers fled into the Al Aqsa mosque. The Temple Mount mosques’ public address speakers broadcast calls of incitement in the morning hours, including anti-Jewish phrases, calls for ‘jihad’ (holy war) and cries of “allahu akbar” - “Allah is great.” There has also been ongoing violence between police and Arabs in the alleys of the Old City. Muslim youths have attacked police with rocks at the “Antonia Gate” entrance to the Temple Mount. One suspect was arrested near the Ecce Homo arch. A group of some 100 female rioters attempted to march in the Sultan Suleiman area of eastern Jerusalem. Two Jewish activists were allowed to visit the Temple Mount early Sunday afternoon, after restrictions were placed on Muslims wishing to enter the site because of the violence. They braved the heavy rain to visit the Temple Mount “so that it should not be empty of Jews,” according to one of them, Yosef Rabin.


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