updated 3/16/2010 3:25:41 PM ET 2010-03-16T19:25:41

The earthquake and tsunami that struck Chile last month killed 700 people and caused damages of nearly $30 billion, according to the government. And the ground hasn't stopped shaking.

A magnitude-6.7 aftershock rocked south-central Chile Monday night, adding to the raw nerves and mounting damages caused by the Feb. 27 quake.

Chile's Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter updated the known death and damage toll on Tuesday, saying 200 people previously listed as missing would be added to the count of 500 previously known dead.

"In economic terms, this is the worst catastrophe Chile has suffered," Hinzpeter added. He estimated that damages could reach nearly $30 billion, with insurance covering just $5 billion to $8 billion.

Public Works Minister Hernan de Solminihac said it will cost some $1.46 billion to restore public infrastructure — notably the fallen bridges that are slowing reconstruction and relief efforts.

Higher taxes on mining operations may be one way to cover the public costs, Hinzpeter said. Conservative lawmakers have rejected the idea of a higher tax burden on the country's crucial mining sector.

More political fault lines are also reappearing as Chile's center-left coalition, which just lost power after 20 years in office, tries to reassert itself.

The left-leaning are demanding greater efforts to help the millions of Chileans affected by the catastrophe. They want to increase the mining tax and more than double the roughly $80 "March bonus" that President Sebastian Pinera promised to 4.2 million disadvantaged citizens on the campaign trail last year. Finance Minister Felipe Larrain has rejected an increase.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments