White Earthquake

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Map of Chile showing communes in state of catastrophe during the White Earthquake in red. Communes in pink were declared zones of "agrarian emergency". Communes in both state of catastrophe and agrarian emergency are shown in dark red

The White Earthquake (Spanish: Terremoto Blanco) was the name put on the cold wave and heavy snowfall that occurred through southern Chile in August 1995.

7,176 people were left isolated as result of the heavy snowfall and 3 persons died because of it.[1]

On August 2, 1995, a cold front entered southern Chile. While at the beginning the cold front seemed normal, it was soon joined by a second cold front that caused temperatures to drop drastically, below −14 °C (7 °F) in some areas, and generated large snowfalls. The snow made road transit difficult and isolated hundreds of communities in the Andes and the Patagonian plains.

The fodder stored for animals began to run out, and sheep and cows were trapped in metres of snow. The government of Eduardo Frei declared an emergency state in 24 communes initially but extended it later to encompass more than 30 communes.

Communes affected by the White Earthquake
Region "Agrarian emergency" "Zone of catastrophe"
Maule Colbún
Biobío Santa Bárbara
San Fabián de Alico
Santa Bárbara
San Fabián de Alico
San Carlos
Coihueco
Pinto
El Carmen
Yungay
Pemuco
Tucapel
Antuco
Quilleco
Quilaco
Araucanía Curacautín
Pucón
Lonquimay
Melipeuco
Curarrehue
Angol
Collipulli
Purén
Los Sauces
Vilcún
Cunco
Villarrica
Carahue
Curacautín
Pucón
Lonquimay
Melipeuco
Curarrehue
Los Lagos Palena
Futaleufú
Entre Lagos
Puerto Octay
Lago Ranco
Panguipulli
Futrono
Valdivia
Aisén Aisén
Chile Chico
Cisnes
Cochrane
Coihaique
Guaitecas
Lago Verde
O'Higgins
Río Ibáñez
Tortel
Magallanes Laguna Blanca
Natales
Navarino
Porvenir
Primavera
Punta Arenas
Río Verde
San Gregorio
Timaukel
Torres del Paine

Between 10,000 and 12,000 families suffered the severe effects of the White Earthquake which also buried several houses in snow. Livestock farmers suffered the worst economic effects, since they lost most of their livestock due to starving and freezing. It has been estimated that in Magallanes Region Two in Ten sheep died, while in parts of Tierra del Fuego up to Eight in Ten sheep died.

The emerging aquaculture industry of southern Chile also suffered huge losses with the loss of 20,000 trout and 50,000 salmon. Wildlife such as the South Andean Deer also registered high death rates.

Only by the end of August could the government clean the principal roads of snow and provide effective help to the affected zones, specially in form of fodder.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Díaz Labbé, Fernando (December 20, 2011), Nevazones Zona Sur–Regiones Biobío y Araucanía: 2011 (in Spanish), Oficina Nacional de Emergencia del Ministerio del Interior, retrieved April 29, 2014 

See also[edit]