Sandra Godoy-Atkinson, of Ballina, is concerned about her family missing in Chile. Jacklyn Wagner
Sandra Godoy-Atkinson, of Ballina, is concerned about her family missing in Chile. Jacklyn Wagner

Quake leads to agonising wait

SINCE the Chile earthquake hit on Saturday, Ballina resident Sandra Godoy-Atkinson has kept logged on to Facebook, waiting for any word of the whereabouts of her uncle who was last seen in the tsunami-ravaged town of Chillan.

She has busied herself during the agonising wait by raising awareness of the plight of her home town, in particular the poor coastal areas in the south of Chile where the tsunami has left helpless families without essentials.

“There was a lot of media coverage here about the Haiti earthquake, but hardly anything about Chile. Facebook has been my lifeline,” she said.

“Chile may not be as poor as Haiti but the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami in Chile is worse,” she said.

In fact, the quake was so powerful that it appears to have jolted the Earth’s axis into a new position and increased the planet’s rotation speed.

According to research scientists from NASA, this new speed has shortened the length of the day by one-millionth of a second.

But with the Chile Government’s hesitance to accept international aid up front, for Ms Godoy-Atkinson, the days of anxious waiting seem longer.

“Chile’s Government should just swallow its pride. They need help,” she said.

The Ballina mother learned via Facebook that a cousin, who was holidaying in the seaside town Pichilemu, only found out about the tsunami from the noise of sirens and mayhem outside at 3.30am.

“There was no warning,” she said.

“They ran up to the hill as homes were washed away.”

Since Saturday, Ms Godoy-Atkinson has been glued to a Facebook site dedicated to finding missing persons.

“Someone just posted a description of an 8-year-old girl who was trying to find her family,” she said.

According to yesterday’s figures the Chilean earthquake has left more than 700 people dead.

Ms Godoy-Atkinson urged Australians to donate to the Chile earthquake appeal via the Salvation Army website.



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