President Barack Obama called his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet to express condolence in the aftermath of the massive earthquake in the country in which hundreds are feared dead, even as he said that US is ready to provide assistance in relief efforts.
“This afternoon, President Obama spoke with President Michelle Bachelet to express his condolences for the losses Chile suffered as a result of this morning’s tragic earthquake,” the White House said in a statement.
Mr. Obama commended President Bachelet for the Chilean government’s response to the disaster and recognised Chile’s capacity and expertise in responding to earthquakes.
“He reiterated that the United States stands ready to assist the Chilean government’s rescue and recovery efforts.
President Bachelet thanked President Obama for his call, and said that she would be in touch should Chile require any support,” the White House said.
“Early indications are that hundreds of lives have been lost in Chile, and the damage is severe,” Mr. Obama said in a statement at the White House after he was briefed by his national security team after a massive earthquake hit Chile Saturday.
Noting that the devastating earthquake has affected millions of people in Chile, he said: “This catastrophic event was followed by multiple aftershocks, and has prompted tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean.”
Mr. Obama said the US stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts.
“We have resources that are positioned to deploy should the Chilean government ask for our help,” he said.
Observing that Chile is a close friend and partner of the US, Mr. Obama said, “I’ve reached out to President Bachelet to let her know that we will be there for her should the Chilean people need assistance, and our hearts go out to the families who may have lost loved ones.”
The US President said his administration is also preparing for a tsunami that could reach American shores later today, particularly in Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam.
“A tsunami warning is in place, and people have been alerted to evacuate coastal areas.
I urge citizens to listen closely to the instructions of local officials, who will have the full support of the federal government as they prepare for a potential tsunami, and recover from any damage that may be caused,” he said.
“I also urge our citizens along the West Coast to be prepared as well, as there may be dangerous waves and currents throughout the day.
In the hours ahead, we’ll continue to take every step possible to prepare our shores and protect our citizens.
And we will stand with the people of Chile as they recovery from this terrible tragedy,” said the US President.