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March 8, 2010

Chileans reject post-quake looting speculators

(Continued)

Some disaster veterans say Chile's response has been remarkable, largely avoiding bureaucratic infighting and quickly patching up the international airport and main north-south highway to keep aid flowing.

"Could FEMA have done that?" said Chris Weeks, director of humanitarian affairs for the DHL delivery company, referring to the U.S. government's disaster agency.

Weeks, the leader of a group of DHL volunteers who organize airport aid deliveries in major disasters worldwide, said, "These Chileans are such can-do people. ... I've seen damaged bridges with big metal slabs covering the gaps. If that were the States they would close the bridges for two months while structural engineers figured out if you could cross."

Chileans also are helping themselves: Complementing Chile's intensive military aid, volunteers have appeared all over to deliver clothes and food, and a national telethon collected $58 million Saturday — twice what organizers hoped for.

That's just a tiny fraction of the estimated $12 billion to $30 billion needed — a huge amount for a country with an annual budget of $42 billion, even though Chile has saved more than $11 billion in copper profits from the state-owned Codelco mining company.

———

Associated Press Writer Michael Warren reported from Santiago, Chile. AP writers Federico Quilodran in Santiago and Eduardo Gallardo in Concepcion contributed to this report.

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