Nightly News   |  March 02, 2010

In Constitucion, shockwaves still reverberate

Tsunami waves cut a 1.5-mile swath with a force so strong in the Chilean city of Constitucion that it erased a row of seaside businesses. NBC's Ann Curry reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> tom costello in washington. thanks.

>>> we return to the big story we've been covering in chile, a country brought to its knees sunday by the massive earthquake and tsunami countless aftershocks that followed. the death toll is continuing to rise, now near 800. the chilean military deployed 14,000 troops to the area. u.s. secretary of state hillary clinton arrived today and met with chile's president. the effects of the disaster are being felt in the heart of chile including the town of constiucio, where almost half the deaths took place. our own ann curry is there tonight. reporting begins with her. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening to you, brian. that's right. this town of constitucion may have been the worst place to be when disaster struck. anna maria is coming to grips with one of the strongest earthquakes on record and a tsunami wave did to her home of 30 years. she and her husband are only alive because their son woke them and told them to run. in life, she says, we get so caught up in material things and we should value more than those things. here along the coast, locals say after the quake there were as many as five tsunami waves. one of which they describe as being 50 feet high. in constitucion, the waves caught a 1 1/2 mile swath with a force strong enough to flip over flatbed trucks and completely erase what used to be a row of seaside businesses in this town. many people are still missing. of the 38,000 people, more than 350 are known dead, the number still rising . 17-year-old victor lost eight members of his familiarly, including his mother, three brothers and his child. the quake alone destroyed 90% of downtown, where there is little gas and electricity, no running water and so far little government help, though troops now enforce a dusk to dawn curfew. not waiting for government help, anna maria 's family is a study in resilience. everyone, children, cousins pitching in and picking up the pieces , their spirit unbroken. anna maria who lost her clothing shop is saying, yes, it hurts i lost my house and work. how will your family survive this? she answered, "we have the force of love from caring for your family from god. above the waterline in her home, pictures of her children and faith, that like chile, she will rebuild her life one piece at a time. the biggest need here on the ground is clean water and food. currently there is no place to buy them and no word on when those supplies might arrive, brian.

>> ann curry , we are still seeing so many of these pictures and scenes for the first time because of the traveling you did overnight. thanks for your reporting tonight. there are big differences between the