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Girl (12) saved many people in Chilean island from tsunami by striking the gong

SANTIAGO DE CHILE / EFE

Una niña de 12 años salvó la vida de buena parte de los habitantes del archipiélago Juan Fernández, a 600 kilómetros de la costa chilena, al alertar sobre las olas gigantes que devastaron las islas tras el terremoto que este sábado asoló el centro y sur de Chile.

Según publica hoy el diario La Tercera, la menor, llamada Martina Maturana, se enteró del fuerte sismo a través de su abuelo, residente en Valparaíso, y corrió hasta una céntrica plaza de Robinson Crusoe, la principal isla del archipiélago, e hizo sonar un gong, que es la alarma del pueblo para estos casos.

La señal despertó a varios lugareños de la isla, quienes también empezaron a tocar campanas y a huir hacia las alturas, minutos antes de que una ola gigante destruyera buena parte del territorio, donde por el momento se han registrado ocho víctimas fatales y 13 desaparecidos.

La menor, hija de un carabinero destinado en la isla Robinson Crusoe, percibió el terremoto como un leve temblor, aunque avisó a su padre, quien llamó a Valparaíso para conocer el estado de su familia.

Al escuchar la magnitud del movimiento telúrico, la niña observó por la ventana que los botes varados en la bahía saltaban y chocaban entre ellos, tras lo que corrió a la plaza del pueblo para hacer sonar la alarma y salvar muchas vidas entre los cerca de 700 habitantes de la isla.

El gobernador de Valparaíso, Ricardo Bravo, viajó este domingo al archipiélago, donde aseguró que “no quedó nada”.

Según explicó, las olas ingresaron 300 metros en el territorio de la isla y destrozaron las viviendas de unos 200 habitantes, que fueron albergados en casas vecinas.

El terremoto, de 8,8 grados Richter, ha dejado hasta el momento 711 fallecidos y dos millones de damnificados.

…………………………..

Girl saved island village from tsunami by sounding alarm

By Peter Krupa | Published: March 1, 2010

(Translated from an article in La Tercera.)

On the Juan Fernández Islands, 600km off the coast of Chile, the 8.8 earthquake that shook the mainland on Saturday morning was only a gentle tremble. At least that’s what it felt like to Maratina Maturana, 12 years old and the daughter of a federal police officer stationed on Robinson Crusoe Island.

Worried that something strange had happened, she told her father, who after calming her down, called the mainland to get information about a possible earthquake. When her grandfather in Valparaíso confirmed that a tragedy had occurred in Chile, Martina looked out the window and saw that the boats in the bay were bucking and bumping into each other

That’s when she ran to the village square and rang the gong installed in the center of the park. Though she didn’t know the emergency codes used by the island’s authorities – two for fire, three for landslide – she woke several of the island residents, who also started ringing bells and fleeing to high ground. Minutes later, a tsunami destroyed the cove. It was thanks to Martina that the tsunami didn’t cause more deaths.

“There was nothing left”

Ricardo Bravo, Valparaíso’s governor, told stories like these upon returning to the mainland from the islands yesterday afternon. “There was nothing left on the island,” he explained. According to Bravo, who was named head of the Juan Fernández emergency committee, the waves swept inland 300 meters, flooding a school, the town square, and the municipality. Yesterday, two ambulance planes arrived with the remains of eight victims who died in the disaster. Another four will be buried on the island.

Bravo said that 200 people were affected, which represents 35% of the island’s population. They were taking shelter in the homes that were still standing. There are also eight people missing, among them a Spanish citizen. As for the injured, Bravo said that five were flown in on Saturday and two yesterday. “They’re the most seriously injured, with fractures and wounds. Those with less serious injuries stayed (on the island),” he said. An army unit that will work on clean-up and rebuilding arrived yesterday on the frigate Condell with rescue equipment, water, food, generators, and a team of paramedics.

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