Earthquake disaster

CONCEPCION - Chile's government scrambled yesterday to provide aid to thousands of homeless people in coastal towns devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunamis as 10000 troops moved into stricken areas to quell looting.

The government estimated the death toll to 711 from Saturday's 8,8 magnitude quake as scenes of destruction emerged in isolated towns triggered by one of the strongest earthquakes in a century.

With many people missing and some communities still largely cut off by mangled roads, President Michelle Bachelet said the death toll was certain to rise.

Surging waves ruined houses and smashed cars in fishing villages on the country's long Pacific coast. In the town of Constitucion alone about 350 people died, state television quoted emergency officials as saying. - Reuters