12-year-old girl warned Chilean islanders of tidal waves

Santiago:  A 12-year-old girl saved the lives of many inhabitants on the Chilean archipelago with her timely warning about the tidal waves that were to devastate the islands after last weekend’s earthquake.

The Santiago daily La Tercera reported Monday that Martina Maturana heard about the magnitude-8.8 temblor from her grandfather, a resident of the mainland port city of Valparaiso, and ran to the central square of Robinson Crusoe Island to sound the gong that is used to alert people in such emergencies.

The gong woke a number of islanders, who also began to ring bells and flee to the highest points on the island, minutes before a giant tidal wave destroyed a large part of the territory. In that area, eight fatalities have been confirmed and 13 people were missing.

Martina, daughter of a policemen stationed on Robinson Crusoe Island, perceived the earthquake as a slight temblor and told her father about it, who in turn called Valparaiso to find out how the family was doing.

Hearing the magnitude of the quake, the girl looked through the window and saw that the boats anchored in the bay were lurching around on the water and crashing into each other. She then ran to the town square and sounded the alarm.

The governor of Valparaiso province, Ricardo Bravo, went Sunday to the archipelago, where he said “nothing was left”.

He said that the waves crashed some 300 metres inland and wiped out the dwellings of 200 local residents, who sought shelter in nearby homes.

More than 700 people died in last Saturday’s earthquake and some two million have been affected by the disaster.

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