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Wine regions devastated by Chile quake

The devastating earthquake that hit Chile over the weekend has caused significant damage to wine regions across the country.

Wines of Chile described the situation as “alarming, shocking and concerning” following the 8.8 magnitude quake, which has so far claimed more than 700 lives in the South American nation.

Maule, one of the country’s oldest and most established wine regions, has been particularly badly hit, with authorities in the area confirming more than 540 people have been killed.

The quake struck at 0634 GMT about 70 miles north-east of the city of Concepcion and 325km south-west of the capital, Santiago.

Michael Cox, UK director at Wines of Chile, said: “At this early stage, it has been difficult to ascertain the extent of the damage to Chile’s wine regions and winery infrastructure, but I have had contact with a number of friends in Chile who report that there is significant damage in the southern wine areas closest to the epicentre, notably Bío Bío, Cauquenes, and other parts of Maule, and Curicó.

“Even wineries as far north as Colchagua have been affected, with structural damage, road collapses, and power and communication problems.
“Wines of Chile will continue to monitor the situation and update the UK trade as often as possible, but in the meantime, we send our best wishes, prayers, and thoughts to all those who are having to cope with the terrifying forces of Mother Nature.

“In due course Wines of Chile will find a way to ensure that the UK wine trade can send funds to help families in need as Chile find its proud feet again.”

Chile is no stranger to disasters on this scale. The most powerful earthquake in history hit Chile in 1960, measuring 9.5 on the Richter scale, killing dozens of thousands.

Cox says this history of dealing with such a crisis stands Chile in relatively good stead as it begins its recovery.

Saturday’s massive earthquake has shaken but not broken Chile,” he said.

“Clearly there has been significant loss of life, especially in and around Chile’s second city Concepción, and considerable damage to buildings, roads, bridges and infrastructure.

“However, it is also evident that damage and fatality numbers have been greatly reduced by the many earthquake-resistant buildings that are a feature of modern Chile.”

Alan Lodge, 01.03.2010

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