The ALMA Observatory expresses its condolences to the victims of the Chilean earthquake. No injuries to report among ALMA staff

2 March, 2010

A major earthquake of magnitude 8.8 occurred in central Chile at 03:34 local time (06:34 GMT) on Saturday 27 February 2010. The epicenter was 115 km northeast of the city of Concepción, the second most populated city of the country, and 325 km south-west of the capital Santiago. The earthquake has caused significant casualties and damage in the country, mostly in the South, close to the epicenter, and in the central region. Numerous aftershocks have been reported since.

ALMA expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims, and its sympathy and support for all those who have been affected by the earthquake.

Everyone working for the ALMA project in Chile has been personally affected. We are immensely relieved that, as far as we can ascertain at this time, there have been no serious injuries to ALMA staff and their families, although many have suffered severe property damage.

The ALMA sites in the North were not affected by the earthquake and access to the Santiago offices, which do not seem to have suffered major damage, is being restored.

In order for our staff to be with their families during this national crisis, ALMA has decided to reduce its level of operations until Saturday March 6th. Support services at the OSF are running as normal and most of the people continue working from their home or from the Santiago Central Offices.

The Santiago airport is slowly restoring flights but with lower frequencies than normal and modified schedules. ALMA will monitor and assess the situation on a daily basis. We request that any international staff who had planned travel to Santiago get in touch with their ALMA contacts to determine when travel is advisable. At present, communications remain unreliable in certain areas (especially in the South) and mobile phones and the Internet are intermittently available.