(Edited from AP, Pelluhue) The 40 retirees enjoying summer vacation at a seaside campground nestled under pine trees knew they had to move fast after Chile’s powerful earthquake struck. The tsunami came in three waves, surging 200 meters into this Pacific Ocean resort town and dragging away the bus they’d piled into, hoping to get to high ground. Most of those inside were the retired Chileans, and only five of their bodies had been found by Monday, firefighters and witnesses said.

(Edited from AP, Pelluhue) The 40 retirees enjoying summer vacation at a seaside campground nestled under pine trees knew they had to move fast after Chile’s powerful earthquake struck.

 

They didn’t make it. The tsunami came in three waves, surging 200 meters into this Pacific Ocean resort town and dragging away the bus they’d piled into, hoping to get to high ground. Most of those inside were the retired Chileans, and only five of their bodies had been found by Monday, firefighters and witnesses said.

 

Pelluhue’s horror underscored the destruction wrought by Saturday’s pre-dawn 8.8-magnitude quake, which killed nearly 800 people and set off spates of looting in shattered towns without food, water or electricity.

 

Most of the deaths came in communities along Chile’s south-central coast – those closest to the quake’s epicenter – in the wine-growing Maule region that includes Pelluhue.

 

Survivors found about 20 bodies, and an estimated 300 homes were destroyed. Most residents were aware of the tsunami threat; street signs pointed to the nearest tsunami evacuation route. The ruins of homes, television sets, clothes, dishwashers and dead fish cover the town’s black sand beaches.

 In Curanipe, the local church served as a morgue. People quickly buried their dead because the funeral home had no electricity.

Aftershocks continued to roll through the region: 131 of magnitude 5 or greater struck in the first 72 hours after the big quake.

 

The region’s biggest city, Concepcion, suffered waves of looting before some 1,500 troops arrived to enforce an 8 p.m. to noon curfew that finally brought calm by Tuesday. Nearly every store had been looted, some even set on fire, in a city still lacking food, water and electricity.

 

President Michelle Bachelet said 14,000 soldiers and marines were deployed for security across the region and authorities began handing out packages of food and water in the disaster zone.

 

She also met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who brought in 25 satellite telephones and promised much more aid to come.

 

“We stand ready to help in any way that the government of Chile asks us to. We want to help Chile, who has done so much to help others,” Clinton said.

 

Argentina already had flown in a field hospital. Brazil and Peru also were already preparing cargo-planeloads of supplies, hospitals and doctors to fly in.

 

Chile’s defense minister has said the navy made a mistake by not immediately activating a tsunami warning. He said port captains who did call warnings in several coastal towns saved hundreds of lives.

 

The World Health Organization said it expected the death toll to rise as communications improve. For survivors, it said access to health services will be a major challenge.

 

In Geneva, U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said Chile was seeking temporary bridges, field hospitals, satellite phones, electric generators, damage assessment teams, water purification systems, field kitchens and dialysis centers.

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