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Explosion in Chaitén

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Eruption – Destruction – Disturbance.  (Map this!)

“You haven’t heard about the eruption in Chaitén? The Carretera Austral is closed.” , said the man in Temuco. That was the first time we heard about Chaitén; with relief we found that the ferry was still running and we could still do the Carretera Austral.

In May, 2008, when the volcano of the same name erupted, Chaitén was hastily evacuated by the Chilean government. Since then some of the hardy residents have been coming back, but now they face a different threat – how will the government react to the uncertainty of the still erupting volcano? The aid so far includes a generous monthly stipend and a lump sum large enough to reconstruct a dwelling of modest size. But the officials have kept the people in the dark about the factors that they took into account while making their decisions, especially the one to relocate the town.


For a higher resolution video click here

The residents of Chaitén are frustrated. They decided to vent their feelings towards the all-powerful government on the day we arrived, creating a second eruption to parallel the first.

“The government is authoritarian, in the sense that they do not ask the people of Chaiten what they want”, Bernardo, the leader, said.

“The government shouldn’t come here to force us off our land. We will never move”, another resident said.

We felt a lot of sympathy for the protesters; even though the government is trying to help them they deserve to know the criteria being used to make the decisions that will have a lasting effect on their lives.

For pictures of Chaitén, click here.

5 Responses to “Explosion in Chaitén”

  1. Fred says:

    Here in North America there is not a peep of news about any of this. You would think that an exploding volcano would be of some news value. The dislocation of a village is also newsworthy. Nothing here!

  2. Pramod taskar says:

    USA is in great economical turmoil. Deep recession may lead to depression. Millions are unemployed. Obama is proposing Trillion dollar incentive to create jobs. So USA is in its own woes.
    News from Chile is rarely reported. When are you returning back? Take care.

  3. katherine says:

    Wow that was really fantastic coverage. I have to say that it took a minute or so before I realize that was you guys doing the voiceover! great reporting, and gorgeous footage. Thank you. and Miss you both.

  4. Pramod taskar says:

    Shreesh and Neena,
    Your video was very impressive. In general, people get attached to the place they call as home and are reluctant to quit the area. So, I do understand where they are coming from. On the other hand, the govt. has to take into consideration the safety issue as well. It is a no win situation.
    It was nice to hear your voices after a long time. With the road being blocked, what route did you take to move on?
    We are missing you both very much and are waiting to hear about further plans.

  5. Neena says:

    Hello Fred,
    I am wondering how to follow up on what happens to Chaitén myself. We heard that the deadline for the move was March this year and it has now been extended to May. This is when govt help stops.
    Hello Aai/Daddy,
    We took a ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaitén as the northern part of the Carretera Austral was closed. Once the demonstration ended, we were able to follow our course South and we are now about two days from the Argentinian border.
    Hello Katherine,
    Thanks for the compliments. Do you remember when we posted our first video on the floods in Costa Rica, a spur of the moment video taken on our point and shoot camera? You commented that we should do more video. We took that seriously and spent a lot of time improving our video techniques. We like to think we have come a long way from that first attempt! Thanks for providing us with the motivation to learn something new!

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