BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday she will bring 20 satellite phones and a technician with her when she visits earthquake-damaged Chile.
The gear and expertise are a down payment on help the United States intends to provide following last week's massive quake in Chile. Clinton was stopping briefly Tuesday in the capital as part of a Latin American trip rearranged because of the disaster.
"We are bringing some of what they asked for which are satellite phones," Clinton told reporters on the way to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
"One of their biggest problems has been communications as we found in Haiti in those days after the quake," Clinton said.
She noted that Chile's communications system was much more advanced before the quake than Haiti's, but she said communication with hard-hit Concepcion is difficult.
In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says Chile has also asked for a field hospital and water purification systems.
"We are mobilizing those capabilities as we speak, and will be moving those down to Chile as quickly as possible," Crowley said.
Paul Simons, the U.S. ambassador in Santiago, told reporters at the State Department in Washington that details of U.S. aid are to be worked out during Clinton's visit. Simons also said in a video teleconference from Santiago there had been no reports of American citizen deaths in Chile, and that all 300 U.S. Embassy personnel were accounted for, with none seriously injured.
Clinton noted that Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at first thought her country would not need U.S. help. That changed as the scope of damage became clear.
The earthquake killed more than 700 people. Some coastal towns were almost obliterated — first shaken by the quake, then slammed by a tsunami that carried whole houses inland and crushed others into piles of sticks. Shocked survivors were left without power, water or food.
The U.N. said Monday that it would rush aid deliveries to Chile after Bachelet appealed for international aid.
U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said Chile was seeking temporary bridges, field hospitals, satellite phones, electric generators, damage assessment teams, water purification systems, field kitchens and dialysis centers.
Associated Press National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this story from Washington.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
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