CONCEPCION,Chile–Chile's president defended herself Tuesday against charges of government incompetence in a disaster that not only shattered lives and property but challenged the nation's very identity.
A society built on pride in its wealth and orderliness found itself suddenly facing gangs of rioters, a wounded economy and a shaken sense of civic responsibility. A government that sent 15 tons of food and medicine, a search and rescue team and 20 doctors to Haiti after the earthquake there found itself seeking emergency aid from other countries.In Lota, a former coal mining town of 30,000 along the heavily damaged coast, Mayor Jorge Venegas said Tuesday that a "psychosis" had taken hold.A gas station went up in flames, gunfire rattled through the night and residents guarded streets against roaming bands of looters, he told Radio Bio Bio. He said 2,000 homes had been destroyed, thousands were living in the streets and people were wielding guns, iron bars and long sticks to protect their possessions.
"It's urgent that the army reach our city," Venegas pleaded....
Picture Left:A police officer aims at people that were looting goods from a store damaged during the magnitude-8.8 earthquake in Talcahuano, Chile,Tuesday,March 2,2010.(AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)