SANTIAGO de CHILE, Chile (GlossyNews)– Officials from Chile’s Earthquake Preparedness and Disaster Management Authority expressed concern today that the country would not attract as much media attention as Haiti, thereby reducing the plane loads of aid and barrage of goodwill text messages from celebrities around the world.
Though the Chilean quake was a hundred times stronger than the “Voodoo Quake” that rattled the Caribbean two months ago, officials fret that their major disaster will go unnoticed in the wake of other catastrophes that looked more devastating or occurred closer together. One official cited the “10 seconds of fame quake” that hit Okinawa, Japan, on February 26. He said, “The problem is that the Japan quake happened right after Haiti’s. And Haiti stole all our thunder because its ramshackle villages collapsed into a media friendly dystopia. Here in Chile, we are prepared; and that didn’t work for us. Our property damage and loss of life, they were nominal compared to Haiti. If the temblor could have struck before Okinawa’s, we’d be in business.”
The U.S Geological Survey put Japan’s earthquake at magnitude 7.3 on the Richter scale, although Japan’s Meteorological Agency recorded the quake at magnitude 6.9. GlossyNews, a paragon of fairness and balance in the media, went straight for the center to derive the scientifically indisputable mean average of 7.1.
Much to the dismay of Chile, reporters defended the news black out.
“Let’s start with Japan,” said Jairuchi Teremoto, an iReporter from the Okinawa prefecture. “There, not a single soul was lost nor a single injury reported. No fires, no looting, and the Nishihara refinery continued supplying its 100,000 barrels per day. It was all business as usual. That’s not my idea of groundbreaking news. And it didn’t help Chile that we’d lost interest, even though it managed to gather a bigger temblor barely 24 hours later.”
Chilean authorities were pleased the quake didn’t claim as many countrymen as the Caribbean island, though some political hawks in the government thought it ought to have.
“I think we are quickly becoming victims of our own success at managing natural crises. Each quake is claiming fewer and fewer lives. This eventually means less financial support, cursory media coverage and no goodwill messages, which are key ingredients for quick [economic] recovery and reconstruction,” said a crisis management official.
“I think the local authorities should seriously reconsider their building and construction guidelines. You know, relax the bureaucracy a bit, especially with regard to residential areas and our emerging skyline, just to see how far things can go. Dreadful will be the day when a 9.0 hits us and people mistake it for a passing train,” he said. “We don’t want to end up as South America’s Japan.”
Meanwhile, President Obama promised Michelle Bachelet, his Chilean counterpart, the United State’s full support and commitment to reconstruction and relief efforts, while personally conveying the American people’s goodwill messages during Chile’s time of need and attention.
But Obama also warned Chile against pushing its luck after officials there asked about the possibility of a “We Are The World 25 For Chile” benefit concert.
“At least Kenya has taken note, a country 8,000 miles away. That has a special meaning to me, and you should be thankful,” Obama said in reference to the mapping work of the crisis group Ushahidi.
The Ushahidi Story
“All we needed was a computer and a fast internet connection,” said Erik Hersman, one of the volunteers based in Nairobi.
Ushahidi is an online mapping tool that can be used to collect and plot reports coming in from citizens via e-mail, SMS or even Twitter.
Messages plotted on Ushahidi’s map of Chile already include items such as “Send help, I’m stuck under a building with my child. We have no supplies.”
The intent is that emergency services can then use the information to target their efforts.
“We aggregate the citizen data and visualize it so that it can be used more effectively,” said Mr Hersman.
“During Haiti, we mostly watched. Lost a citizen or two. In Okinawa, we didn’t even notice. After Chile, we had to do something. I am proud to be Kenyan,” concluded Hersman.