Int'l community offers condolences, aid to quake-hit Chile

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The international community continues to offer condolences and aid to Chile after it was hit by a dire 8.8-magnitude earthquake before dawn on Saturday.

South Korea on Sunday said it was prepared to offer relief aid to help Chile. The government pledged to provide rapid assistance to Chile, but the concrete scale of the aid in the early stage will be decided based on the international community's moves and specified losses caused by the earthquake, it noted.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Sunday the Australian government would offer "any possible assistance" to the people of Chile.

"Our thoughts are very much with the people of Chile today as they deal with this natural disaster," Kevin Rudd told journalists. "I've asked our diplomats in Santiago to convey to the Chilean government our offer of any possible assistance dealing with this natural disaster."

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Saturday sent deepest sympathy to all those affected by the second earthquake to hit the Americas in 2010.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also said Britain would do whatever it could to help. Specialist teams from British charities are being sent to Chile after the massive earthquake in the South American country has killed more than 300 people so far.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Saturday that Germany was sending an expert team to Chile to find out how it could offer technical assistance to the South American nation.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso announced Saturday that the European Union was in a position to send 3 million euros (around 4 million U.S. dollars) to help meet the most urgent needs following the earthquake in Chile.

Europe is prepared to "do everything required to help the Chilean authorities at this difficult time," Barroso said in a statement, while expressing his "profound shock at the extent of the devastation caused by the terrible earthquake."

The Spanish government said in a statement that it was ready to provide technical and humanitarian assistance to affected areas to the extent deemed necessary by the Chilean authorities.

U.S. President Barack Obama offered help to quake-stricken Chile on Saturday, and urged people living in areas where tsunami warnings were issued to follow instructions of officials.

Obama said he had reached out to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet upon hearing about the 8.8-magnitude earthquake. He said the United States had resources in position to deploy, and could help in the rescue and recovery efforts, should Chile ask for help.

Tunisian President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali condoled with Bachelet following the disastrous earthquake on Saturday.

Some Latin American countries also voiced sorrow and offered help to the quake-stricken Chilean people.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva voiced his "deep concern for the impact of the earthquake", and asked the cabinet to evaluate Chile's situation and the assistance Brazil could give.

The Mexican government sent its condolences to the Chilean people, and promised to offer aid.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez phoned her Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet to express her solidarity and offer "all the help needed", an Argentine official said.

The Colombian Foreign Ministry said its rescue systems were ready to offer any aid and assistance to Chile.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed his deepest sorrow for the victims of the earthquake, saying his country was ready to contribute to the Chilean people.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia said on Saturday that his country "is at service of the Chilean government and people for whatever they need". He also urged Peruvian people to be ready for an earthquake in Peru.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa also voiced his solidarity with the Chilean people and government and added that "you can count on us for any help we can give. A big hug for the Chilean people and beloved President Bachelet."

Nicaragua, Bolivia, Panama, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica have all expressed condolences to and solidarity with the Chilean people, and vowed to offer any aid it needs.

The 8.8-magnitude tremor rocked Chile at 3:34 a.m. local time (0634 GMT) Saturday, knocking down homes and hospitals, and triggering a tsunami that rolled menacingly across the Pacific.

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