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In quake-struck city, Chileans take to airwaves in hope of reaching loved ones

Video by Elena CASAS , Valérie Labonne

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-03-03

With phone networks and television signals down, a local radio station in Concepcion - the city the worst hit by Saturday's quake - is finding itself overwhelmed with Chileans who have come in the hopes of broadcasting a message to their families.

As the death toll rises in the wake of Chile’s 8.8-magnitude earthquake, thousands of people wait anxiously for news of their loved ones.

But communication is difficult in the stricken country, where most phone networks and television signals remain down. In the most severely hit city, Concepcion, a local radio station called “Bio-Bio” is the only way people have of getting information.

Now the station is finding itself overwhelmed with Chileans who have come in the hopes of broadcasting a message to their families that they are fine.

The journalists at “Bio-Bio” have been working frantically since the earthquake struck.

"Radio is a social mission, we have a public service to fulfill”, one of those journalists said. “That's what informing people means. As we have a way of broadcasting that still works, we have to use it to serve the people".

The airwaves are flooded with constant calls from desperate listeners, while scheduled programmes are packed with guests appealing for news.

One university professor went on air to ask after ten Chinese students who had arrived in Chile on Sunday to begin their studies. He has heard nothing from them since the quake.

Date created : 2010-03-03