Obama: US Ready To Assist Chile

The U.S. "will be there" if Chile asks for rescue and recovery help after a powerful earthquake struck the South American nation, President Barack Obama said Saturday.

He also warned people in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the West Coast to heed the instructions of local authorities about evacuations and other measures in advance of a tsunami moving across the Pacific Ocean.

"We can't control nature, but we can and must be prepared for disaster when it strikes," he said in a statement at the White House.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning — its highest alert — for Hawaii. The first waves were expected to arrive in Hawaii late afternoon EST. A lower-grade tsunami advisory was in effect for the coast of California and an Alaskan coastal area.

The Navy was moving more than a half dozen vessels Saturday to try to avoid damage from the tsunami.

A frigate, three destroyers and two smaller vessels were being sent out of Hawaii's Pearl Harbor in a cruiser out of the base at San Diego in California, said Lt. Myers Vasquez, a Navy spokesman in the Pentagon. The ships are safer out on the sea than if they were tied to piers where they could be banged around by the waves, meaning damage to the vessels as well as the piers, he said.

Before he spoke, Obama had a 20-minute conference call with staff and Cabinet members who updated him on conditions in Chile and on the tsunami. Participants included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"The United States stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts and we have resources that are positioned to deploy should the Chilean government ask for our help," Obama said. Chile's president, Michelle Bachelet, said her government has not asked for assistance from other countries.

Clinton planned to leave Sunday for a previously scheduled trip to the region. Her itinerary included more than a day in Chile, but it was unclear Saturday whether she would stick to it.

The U.S. Embassy in Chile was working to learn the whereabouts of U.S. citizens in Chile, both diplomatic employees and other Americans who may have been living there or visiting, State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson said.

There were no reports of U.S. casualties, and the U.S. military said it had no reports that any of its forces had been affected either on land or at sea.

The State Department advises Americans seeking information on family and friends in Chile to contact the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 1-888-407-4747.

There are 118 embassy employees in Chile. It was unclear how many Americans there are throughout Chile, but an estimated 1,000 live in and near Concepcion, which is Chile's second-largest city and only 70 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 28, 2010 at 06:19 PM
    Derek, your right Nixon did bow to Japan and look how his presidancy turn out?
  • by Obama Snake Oil co Location: Washington on Feb 28, 2010 at 04:05 PM
    Did Chile send volunteers to New Orleans after Katrina? I looked for a list of Haiti volunteers and couldn't find them either. Can someone make me understand why America is do evil, Data Man, Lavon, Derek....I need some facts.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 28, 2010 at 02:33 PM
    Obama, savior of the world, destroyer of the USA.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Feb 28, 2010 at 02:04 PM
    Data Man, we can't afford to lose a single citizen, we need all the tax revenue we can get to pay obama's new taxes.
  • by mke Location: greenville on Feb 28, 2010 at 11:23 AM
    Ok so we can't even help ourselves but yet we are spending millions of dollars to help these other countries that will never help us in a time of need? Let's see how a bout spending OUR tax money in america!!
  • by Anonymous on Feb 28, 2010 at 09:11 AM
    This idiot needs to figure out how to help his own country first.
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Feb 28, 2010 at 07:07 AM
    Data Man , Lavon , and all the rest the Anonymous posted Obama lovers. You all should have been on one of those 6 ships to help Obama's Socialist friend out President Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria of Chile
  • by Bozo on Feb 28, 2010 at 06:44 AM
    Question: Who is the president of the USA? Answer: Nancy Peulosi. Great jesture by Obama if it's okay with Nancy.
  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on Feb 28, 2010 at 05:55 AM
    Derek, it only bothers me and millions of other Americans including most military and our intellegence org's because it clearly shows Obama is giving allegeance to his fellow Islamic comrades which deep down inside really don't like the USA or our Christian heritage. I understand presidents show respect to other customs while greeting but Obama was raised in the Islamic faith in India and is a Muslim by heart. He's torn between giving total allegeance to Americans, which are mainly Christian by faith and giving allegeance to his Islamic counterparts in other countries which dislike America and their way of life. Obama has captured the hearts of many ignorant ones who've compromised their faith and accepted his liberal evil agendas (largest supporter ever of abortion, most debt created by any president during first term ($1.2 tril plus $3.8 trillion = 2 yrs.-$5 trillion) which out weighs Bush's 8 yrs. twice or more in just 2 yrs. as Obama projects. Data man, we all may leave some day!!!
  • by Pirateman Location: Greenville on Feb 28, 2010 at 05:39 AM
    Am I the only one who has noticed that in the background behind the reporters in Haiti after the quake there were a bunch of people standing around with their lower lips dangling and doing nothing, but in Chile you see people in the background hustling, bustling, moving and doing things. No wonder Haiti is so poor and Chile is not! One country will work; the other just wants to come to America and live on welfare (the dream!).
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