Looting has continued across the Chilean city of Concepcion, following an earthquake over the weekend which claimed upward of 700 lives.
Authorities in the country’s second city have established an air bridge to the capital Santiago in order to deliver aid supplies, while a curfew has also been extended until noon today (15:00GMT).
Condemning “pillage and criminality” in the city, president Michelle Bachelet has sent some 7,000 troops to the region to maintain order. Reports also suggest residents are organising groups to protect property from looters.
Many in the city have seen electricity cut off, while food and water supplies remain scarce. Assistance on the groud has also been hampered by damage to roads and other infrastructure.
Saturday morning’s 8.8-magnitude quake killed at least 723 people local officials have confirmed, with the British Foreign Office now advising against “all but essential” travel to some areas of the country.
The disaster struck some 285 miles south-west of the capital of Santiago, with the cities of Concepcion and Talca worst hit. The Chilean government has also designated the regions of Maule and Biobio as “states of catastrophe”.
Casualty numbers are expected to rise, with frequent, heavy aftershocks - including one measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale – still hitting the area.
Giant waves have also struck in coastal towns, with the village of Constitucion among the hardest hit. Rescuers are continuing to sift through the rubble in a search for survivors.
Aid from neighbouring Argentina and Brazil has begun to arrive in the country, while US secretary of state Hilary Clinton is also expected in the country later to offer America assistance.
Santiago Airport was closed following the earthquake, but reports suggest it could reopen today. Passengers hoping to reach Chile are advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport.
However, communications to, from and within Chile are described as “sporadic” by the Foreign Office.