Rescue Operation Ongoing For Missing Chile Military Plane

View of the airport in Punta Arenas, Chile, on December 10, 2019. Rescue planes and ships on Tuesday searched the open sea between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica for a Chilean Air Force plane that went missing with 38 people aboard. Pablo COZZAGLIO / AFP

 

Rescue planes and ships on Tuesday searched the open sea between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica for a Chilean Air Force plane that went missing with 38 people aboard.

The C-130 Hercules cargo plane vanished after departing an air base in the southern city of Punta Arenas Monday at 4:55 pm (19:55 GMT) en route to Chile’s Antarctic base of Eduardo Frei, officials said.

Contact was lost with the plane at 6:13 pm (2130 GMT), the Chilean Air Force said, adding that the plane had enough fuel to remain in the air for several hours beyond that time.

But seven hours after losing communication officials declared that the plane had crashed.

The pilot may have carried out an emergency ocean landing, said Eduardo Mosqueira, commander of the Fourth Brigade based in Punta Arenas, early Tuesday.

“All national and international air and maritime means available in the area are continuing the search” for survivors, the air force said in a statement Tuesday.

Aircraft and ships from Uruguay, Argentina and Chile have joined in the search, officials said.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera cancelled his scheduled trip to Buenos Aires on Tuesday for the inauguration of Argentina’s new president Alberto Fernandez to monitor rescue operations from Santiago, government spokeswoman Karla Rubilar said.

He initially said that he would travel to Punta Arenas.

“We are doing everything humanly possible to find them despite extremely difficult conditions,” Pinera said.

– Good weather conditions –

The plane went missing while flying over the Drake Passage, a maritime route between South America and Antarctica frequently hit by some of the world’s worst weather.

However, the weather conditions “to fly were good, which is why the trip was planned,” said Francisco Torres, head of operations of Chile’s air force.

The planes and ships are searching within a 60-mile radius from where officials lost contact with the Hercules, Torres said.

Defense Minister Alberto Espina flew to Punta Arenas with Air Force chief Arturo Merino to coordinate the search and rescue mission.

“Believe me, we are using all human and material means at our disposal, with planes, ships, satellites, and foreign support to try to find them,” Espina told journalists. “We know that the conditions are very difficult.”

Brazil has sent a Polar exploration ship and two air force planes to join the search.

The names of those aboard the missing airplane were released Tuesday. Most were air force personnel, but also included three people from the army, two from a private construction company and an official from a Chilean university.

Many of them were traveling to carry out logistical support tasks at the Eduardo Frei base.

Air force officials said they were in contact with the families of those on the plane.

The plane did have an emergency positioning system, but it did not appear to be working during the early morning search, said Mosqueira.

The disappearance of the C-130 came as Chile struggles with nearly two months of protests over social and economic inequality, and against an entrenched political elite.

The nearly two-month crisis and its violent demonstrations have led to 26 deaths and more than 12,000 injuries, according to the Organization of American States.

In September 2011, a Chilean military plane with 21 people aboard crashed near Robinson Crusoe Island, in the Pacific some 700 kilometers west of the South American mainland. A popular TV show host was among the victims.

Chilean Military Plane Disappears With 38 People Onboard

The incident is the latest drama in a country where Chileans have for nearly two months protested social and economic inequality, as well as an entrenched political elite.

 

A Chilean military plane with 38 people aboard “lost radio communication” on Monday after taking off from the south of the country for a base in Antarctica, Chile’s Air Force said.

It said 17 of those aboard were crew and the other 21 were passengers.

A “dismayed” President Sebastian Pinera, whose country has been witnessing its worst civil unrest in decades, said in a tweet that he would fly to Punta Arenas along with Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel.

Once there, they would meet up with Defense Minister Alberto Espina to monitor the search and rescue mission.

“A C-130 Hercules aircraft took off at 16:55 (19:55 GMT) from the city of Punta Arenas to the President Eduardo Frei Antarctic Base,” an Air Force statement said.

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The Air Force said it declared a “state of alert” over the loss of communication at 6:13 pm with the plane, and had begun a rescue operation with aircraft and Chilean Navy vessels.

The four-engine plane had taken off from the Chabunco air base in Punta Arenas, about 1,873 miles (3,016 kilometers) south of Santiago.

It primarily carried out logistical support tasks and transferred personnel to the Antarctic base in order to inspect the base’s floating fuel supply pipeline and to carry out anticorrosive treatment of the facility.

The incident is the latest drama in a country where Chileans have for nearly two months protested social and economic inequality, as well as an entrenched political elite.

The crisis and its violent demonstrations have led to 26 deaths and more than 12,000 injuries, according to the Organization of American States.

 

AFP

Chile President To Lift State Of Emergency Amid Protests

Demonstrators clash with security forces during a demonstration in Valparaiso, Chile on October 27, 2019.  Raúl Goycoolea / AFP

 

Embattled Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Sunday that a state of emergency that has lasted more than a week amid mass protests would be lifted at midnight.

The decision, just two days after more than a million people took to the country’s streets demanding economic and political change, comes after the equally unpopular week-long nighttime curfews ended on Saturday.

Authorities imposed both the state of emergency and curfews last weekend after Chile was rocked by its worst civil unrest in decades.

What originated as a student protest against a modest hike in metro fares quickly got out of control as demonstrations turned deadly.

A message on the presidency’s official Twitter account said the state of emergency, which had seen 20,000 soldiers and police deployed on the streets, would end “in all the regions and towns where it was established.”

This measure comes a day after Pinera said he’d “asked all ministers to resign in order to form a new government.”

“We are in a new reality,” Pinera said on Saturday. “Chile is different from what it was a week ago.”

The government has been struggling to craft an effective response to the protests and a growing list of economic and political demands that include Pinera’s resignation.

The breadth and ferocity of the demonstrations appeared to have caught the government of Chile — long one of Latin America’s richest and most stable countries — off guard.

By Saturday afternoon, the military presence in the capital Santiago had been already visibly reduced.

The week of unrest began with an initial burst of violence as protesters and looters destroyed metro stations, torched supermarkets, smashed traffic lights and bus stops, and erected burning street barricades.

At least 19 people died in the worst political violence since Chile returned to democracy after the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship from 1973-90.

AFP

Protest: UN To Probe Abuses In Chile

Riot police clash with demonstrators during protests in Santiago, on October 20, 2019. Pablo VERA / AFP

 

The United Nations said Thursday it would send a special mission to investigate human rights abuses in Chile, where a general strike went into its second day following a week of street protests that left 18 dead.

President Sebastian Pinera tried to ease tensions by announcing a plan to end a highly unpopular state of emergency and nighttime curfews.

“Having monitored the crisis in Chile since it began, I have decided to send a verification mission to examine the allegations of human rights violations,” the head of the UN Human Rights Council and former Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, said in a tweet.

The protests erupted on Friday, initially against a metro fare hike but spiraled into general discontent at low salaries and pensions, high costs of health care and education, and a yawning gap between rich and poor.

While much of it has been peaceful, metro stations were destroyed, supermarkets torched and looted, traffic lights and bus shelters smashed and countless street barricades erected and set alight.

Some 20,000 police and soldiers have been deployed in the city, using tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators.

But they have also been responsible for five of the deaths, while social media have lit up with accusations of torture and abuses by the security forces.

Industrial action called by Chile’s most powerful union, the Workers’ United Center of Chile (CUT,) that began on Wednesday continued, but in central Santiago people seemed to be going to work as normal with shops and businesses opening their doors.

Overnight Wednesday was the calmest yet of five nigthtime curfews, while a two-week state of emergency is now in its sixth day.

“We’re working on a plan to normalize life in our country … to end the curfew and hopefully to lift the state of emergency,” Pinera said.

The national human rights institute (INDH) says 535 people have been injured — 239 by firearms — and 2,410 detained.

Nine of the deaths came in fires started by looters.

‘Increased polarization’ 

“What President Pinera has done up until now is increase polarization and tension in the country,” CUT president Barbara Figueroa told journalists.

“We have youngsters in the streets with a gun in their hands pointed at their own compatriots.”

While the situation was largely peaceful in the capital the past two days, tensions have remained high in other areas, such as Santiago’s suburbs.

As soldiers guarded Santiago’s metro stations many of the city’s seven million inhabitants returned to normality for the first time since the crisis erupted.

Three of the seven metro lines — which usually carry three million people a day — were operating on Thursday, backed up by 6,000 buses.

Most of the supermarkets that had remained closed on Wednesday opened their doors and almost all schools in the capital held classes.

On Wednesday, four hotels were looted and residents wearing yellow vets patrolled their own neighborhoods to guard against burglary.

In the central Valparaiso region toll booths on the road that connects it to Santiago were attacked while some protesters blocked major motorways in the southern Araucania region.

 Lack of focus and leadership 

Chile, usually one of the most stable countries in Latin America, has seen its worst violence since returning to democracy after the 1973-1990 right-wing dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet.

But the protests lack a clear focus or recognizable leadership.

“This is the whole country’s complaint, we’re fed up,” shouted one protester over the din of pots and pans being banged in front of soldiers.

In an address to the nation late on Tuesday, Pinera apologized for failing to anticipate the outbreak of social unrest and announced a raft of measures aimed at placating demonstrators.

He promised to increase the universal basic pension by 20 percent, cancel a recent 9.2 percent increase in electricity bills and introduce legislation to cut health service costs.

He also vowed to increase the minimum wage, reduce parliamentary expenses and cut high public sector salaries.

“We were hoping that this time of social conflict would increase sensitivity but these are the same proposals as months ago,” said Izkia Siches, president of Chile’s school of medicine, who took part in the strike.

In a poll by Ipsos, two-thirds of respondents said their economic, health and pensions situation was “unequal and unfair.”

Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera told reporters next month’s APEC trade summit would go ahead despite the protests.

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are among those expected to attend the November 16-17 meeting to discuss ending their trade war.

AFP

Chile Protest: Child Killed As Toll Rises To 18

Photo released by Aton of demonstrators lighting bonfires in Vaparaiso, Chile, on October 19, 2019.  AFP

 

A four-year-old child was killed during the latest round of protests in Chile, raising the death toll from five days of social unrest to 18, a top Chilean security official said Wednesday.

The child and an adult man were killed Tuesday when a drunk driver rammed into a crowd of protesters, Interior Undersecretary Rodrigo Ubilla said. A third person died from injuries sustained in a beating by police, according to the victim’s family.

AFP

Death Toll In Chile Violent Protest Rises To 11

Soldiers shoot at demonstrators during protest in Valparaiso, Chile, on October 21, 2019. JAVIER TORRES / AFP

 

Chile’s death toll has risen to 11, authorities said on Monday, after three days of violent demonstrations and looting that saw President Sebastian Pinera claim the country was “at war.”

Almost 1,500 people were detained in the worst outbreak of social unrest in decades while the capital Santiago was placed under curfew for two nights running.

“We are at war against a powerful, implacable enemy, who does not respect anything or anyone and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits,” Pinera told reporters on Sunday after an emergency meeting with army general Javier Iturriaga, who has been placed in charge of order and security in the capital.

Karla Rubilar, the governor of the Santiago region, said eight people had died on Sunday and three on Saturday — all in the Santiago metropolitan area.

Santiago and nine more of Chile’s 16 regions were under a state of emergency, Pinera confirmed late on Sunday, with troops deployed onto the streets for the first time since Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship between 1973-1990.

The clashes, which have seen some 9,500 police and military fire tear gas and water cannon against protesters who have set fire to buses, smashed up metro stations and ransacked shops, were initially sparked by anger over metro fare hikes and wider social inequality.

Long queues formed at shops, service stations and bus stops while the Santiago metro service, suspended on Friday as protesters burned and vandalized stations, was partially running again on Monday as some people returned to work.

In Santiago, many employers canceled the working day, while most schools and universities remained closed.

Iturriaga told reporters the capital was “peaceful and calm,” adding that 17 supermarkets were open as well as service stations and pharmacies.

He took a different line to the president, though, and added: “I feel happy, I’m not at war with anyone.”

Soldiers, though, patrolled outside metro stations and military vehicles were parked in streets near the presidential palace as tensions remained high.

Anger boiled over 

Despite a growth rate that should reach 2.5 percent of GDP this year, several social indicators — such as health, education and pensions — show very high inequalities.

Anger boiled over earlier in the week as a protest against a rise in metro fares escalated dramatically on Friday.

“You could see this coming. The government hasn’t done anything. It’s not just the metro fare that triggered this and ended in vandalism,” sandwich seller Carlos Lucero, 30, told AFP.

He said the government needed to take concrete measures “to improve salaries, health, pensions.”

On Sunday, five people died when a garment factory was torched by rioters in a Santiago suburb, despite right-wing Pinera’s Saturday announcement that he was suspending the fare increase.

Interior and Security Minister Andres Chadwick said two women burned to death after a store owned by US retail chain Walmart was set alight in the early hours of Sunday.

Almost all public transport was paralyzed in Santiago on Sunday, with shops shuttered and many flights canceled at the international airport, leaving thousands of people stranded due to a curfew imposed from 7:00 pm until dawn.

 ‘Listen to the people’ 

Authorities reported 103 serious incidents throughout the country with 1,462 people detained — 614 in Santiago and 848 in the rest of the country.

In some neighborhoods, residents donned the yellow vests made popular by French protesters earlier this year, and wielded sticks vowing to protect their homes, local shops and supermarkets.

“There were some attempted robberies in this area so we got organized to defend ourselves,” Priscila, from eastern Santiago, told Canal 24 Horas.

Several international Chilean footballers have also asked leaders in their country to “listen to the people” and to find solutions.

“I pray that my beloved Chile will be better,” national team star and Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal wrote on Sunday night.

Among the buildings torched and damaged in the violence were the headquarters of the ENEL Chile power company and a Banco Chile branch — both in the center of Santiago — and Chile’s oldest newspaper, El Mercurio, in Valparaiso.

 Social tensions erupt 

Louis de Grange, president of the state Metro S.A. company, told Canal 13 the “brutal destruction” of Santiago’s metro service — South America’s largest and most modern, used by around three million people a day — had caused more than $300 million in damage.

The proposed hike in fares would have raised the price of peak hour travel from 800 to 830 pesos ($1.11 to $1.15).

The government said the rise, which followed a 20-peso increase in January, was driven by rising oil prices and a weakening peso.

Initially, students and others responded by fare-dodging, but underlying social tensions quickly bubbled to the surface.

Although Chile has the highest per capita income of Latin America at $20,000, there is widespread frustration at privatized health care and education, rising costs of basic services and falling pensions.

AFP

Chile Extends State Of Emergency As Protest Death Toll Hits Seven

The police arrest a demonstrator during clashes between protesters and the police in Santiago, on October 20, 2019. Fresh clashes broke out in Chile’s capital Santiago on Sunday after two people died when a supermarket was torched overnight as violent protests sparked by anger over economic conditions and social inequality raged into a third day. PHOTO: CLAUDIO REYES / AFP

 

Chile is “at war”, President Sebastian Pinera said Sunday, as the country reels from three days of violent demonstrations and looting that have left seven dead and almost 1,500 detained in the worst outbreak of social unrest in decades.

“We are at war against a powerful, implacable enemy, who does not respect anything or anyone and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits,” Pinera told reporters after an emergency meeting with army general Javier Iturriaga, who has been placed in charge of order and security in the capital.

Santiago and nine other of Chile’s 16 regions were under a state of emergency, Pinera confirmed late Sunday, with troops deployed onto the streets for the first time since Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship between 1973-1990.

Riot police clash with demonstrators during protests in Santiago, on October 20, 2019. PHOTO: Pablo VERA / AFP

 

The clashes, which have seen some 9,500 police and military fire tear gas and water cannon against protesters who have set fire to buses, smashed up metro stations and ransacked shops, were sparked by anger over price hikes and social inequality.

Despite a growth rate that should reach 2.5 percent of GDP this year, several social indicators — such as health, education and pensions — show very high inequalities.

“Many latent requests have not been answered, tension has built up, frustration has increased daily in daily life,” said Octavio Avendano, a sociologist and political scientist at the University of Chile.

This anger boiled over earlier in the week as a protest against a rise in metro fares escalated dramatically on Friday.

On Sunday, five people died when a garment factory was torched by rioters in a Santiago suburb, despite right-wing Pinera’s Saturday announcement that he was suspending the fare increase.

Earlier, Interior and Security Minister Andres Chadwick said two women burned to death after a store owned by US retail chain Walmart was set alight in the early hours of Sunday.

Another victim, who authorities initially said had died in hospital, suffered burns on 75 percent of her body.

Almost all public transport was paralysed in Santiago on Sunday, with shops shuttered and many flights canceled at the international airport, leaving thousands of people stranded due to a curfew imposed from 7:00 pm until dawn.

‘Listen to the people’

Authorities reported 103 serious incidents throughout the country with 1,462 people detained — 614 in Santiago and 848 in the rest of the country.

“It’s really sad what’s happening, but the people are outraged because they’re not being listened to,” 26-year-old Antonia told AFP in central Santiago.

Several international Chilean football players have also asked leaders in their country to “listen to the people” and to find solutions.

“I pray that my beloved Chile will be better,” Chilean star Arturo Vidal, the Barcelona midfielder, wrote on Sunday night.

On Friday, the headquarters of the ENEL Chile power company and a Banco Chile branch — both in the center of Santiago — were set on fire and heavily damaged.

Dozens of protesters torched a building belonging to Chile’s oldest newspaper, El Mercurio, in Valparaiso on Saturday evening, while elsewhere a metro station, supermarkets and other stores were set on fire.

Social tensions erupt

Santiago’s metro system — South America’s largest and most modern and used by around three million people a day — was shut down on Friday as protesters burned and vandalized stations.

Louis de Grange, president of the state Metro S.A. company, told Canal 13 the “brutal destruction” of the service had caused more than $300 million in damage.

The hike in fares that set off the violence would have raised the price of peak hour travel from 800 to 830 pesos ($1.13 to $1.15).

The government said the hike, which followed a 20-peso increase in January, was driven by rising oil prices and a weakening peso.

Initially, students and others responded by fare-dodging, but underlying social tensions quickly bubbled to the surface.

Chile has the highest per capita income of Latin America at $20,000, with expected economic growth this year of 2.5 percent and just two percent inflation.

Yet there is widespread frustration with economic policies that have virtually privatized all health care and education, at a time that falling pensions and rising costs of basic services have exacerbated social inequality.

AFP

Three Dead In Chile Violent Protest

Photo released by Aton of demonstrators lighting bonfires in Vaparaiso, Chile, on October 19, 2019.  Sebastián CISTERNAS / ATON CHILE / AFP

 

Three people died in a fire in a supermarket being ransacked in the Chilean capital early Sunday, as protests sparked by anger over social and economic conditions rocked one of Latin America’s most stable countries.

Santiago’s Mayor Karla Rubilar told reporters two people burned to death in the blaze and another later died in hospital, after the huge store controlled by US retail chain Walmart was looted.

They were the first deaths in two days of violent unrest in which protesters have set buses on fire, burned metro stations and clashed with riot police in the city of seven million — despite a curfew imposed overnight until 07:00 Sunday.

Soldiers were deployed in the streets for the first time since Chile returned to democracy in 1990, following the rightwing Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

The protests were triggered by an unpopular hike in metro fares, which President Sebastian Pinera announced Saturday he was suspending.

Pinera appealed to people taking to the streets, saying “there are good reasons to do so,” but calling on them “to demonstrate peacefully.”

“Nobody has the right to act with brutal criminal violence,” he said.

But clashes later erupted in Plaza Italia, ground zero of Friday’s violence, and outside the presidential palace.

Protesters again set buses on fire in downtown Santiago, leading to the suspension of services.

“We’re sick and tired, enough already. We’re tired of them screwing around with us. Politicians only do what they want to do, and turn their backs on all reality,” said Javiera Alarcon, a 29-year-old sociologist protesting in front of the presidential palace, which was surrounded by police and military vehicles.

AFP video showed security forces blasting a crowd with water cannon, and riot police wrestling young protesters into vans.

“Having analyzed the situation and the appalling actions that occurred today, I have made the decision to suspend freedoms and movement through a total curfew,” said Army General Javier Iturriaga, who is overseeing security during the state of emergency.

Later on Saturday, the mayors of Valparaiso region and Concepcion province also announced states of emergency.

Dozens of protesters torched a building belonging to Chile’s oldest newspaper El Mercurio in Valparaiso city on Saturday evening, while elsewhere in the port city a metro station, supermarkets and other stores were burned.

 #ChileDesperto 

The unrest was sparked by a hike in metro fares, which increased from 800 to 830 peso ($1.13 to $1.17) for peak-hour travel, after a 20-peso hike in January.

Pinera announced Saturday he was suspending the fare hike, after the entire metro system was shut down the day prior with protesters burning and vandalizing dozens of stations, leaving some completely charred.

The Santiago Metro, at 140 kilometres (90 miles), is the largest and most modern in South America and a source of great pride for Chileans.

People awoke Saturday to a ravaged city as burned-out buses, bikes and garbage littered streets.

Demonstrators shouted “enough with abuse,” while the hashtag #ChileDesperto — Chile awake — made the rounds on social media.

Pinera’s conservative government has been caught flat-footed by the worst social upheaval in decades.

It declared the state of emergency late Friday and ordered hundreds of troops into the streets.

People were infuriated by a photo of Pinera eating pizza in a restaurant with his family while the city burned.

Throughout Friday, rampaging protesters clashed with riot police in several parts of the capital while the headquarters of the ENEL Chile power company and a Banco Chile branch — both in the city center — were set on fire and heavily damaged.

The state of emergency is initially set for 15 days and restricts freedom of movement and assembly.

 Government ‘perplexed and dazed’ 

The unrest started as a fare-dodging protest mainly by students against the hike in metro ticket prices, blamed on rising oil prices and a weaker peso.

There had been several fare-dodging actions in recent days, organized on social media, but the protests escalated Friday, tapping into general discontent among many Chileans.

Chile has the highest per capita income of Latin America at $20,000, with expected economic growth this year of 2.5 percent and just two percent inflation.

But there is an undercurrent of frustration with rising health care and utility costs, low pensions and social inequality.

The metro fare hike served to wake up a society that was averse to violence after the horrors of the Pinochet dictatorship from 1973-1990, which left more than 3,200 people dead or missing, sociologists say.

AFP

South Americans Marvel At Total Solar Eclipse

Solar eclipse as seen from the La Silla European Southern Observatory (ESO) in La Higuera, Coquimbo Region, Chile, on July 02, 2019.  Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

A rare total solar eclipse plunged a vast swath of Latin America’s southern cone into darkness Tuesday, briefly turning day into night and enthralling huge crowds in much of Chile and Argentina.

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Chile’s northern Coquimbo region near the Atacama desert — festooned with some of the planet’s most powerful telescopes — which was situated directly on the eclipse’s 100-mile-wide “path of totality.”

Large crowds congregated in the town of La Higuera, some 2,400 meters above sea level and near the landmark La Silla Observatory, operated by the European Southern Observatory.

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“I don’t believe there’s a better place in the world to see an eclipse than La Silla,” said Australian tourist Betsy Clark.

Clark and her family were among thousands who flocked to the craggy peaks around the observatory on Tuesday.

They were not disappointed. The eclipse had its longest duration as it made to La Silla: 2.36 minutes.

“It was an experience to last several lifetimes,” said Chilean tourist Rene Serey.

Solar eclipses happen when the Sun, the Moon and Earth line up, allowing the Moon to cast its shadow on Earth.

The area where the observatory is located, with its dry weather, crystal-clear air and low light pollution, is a stargazers’ paradise.

To the west, in the coastal town of La Serena, thousands of people on the beach cheered and clapped at the moment when the Moon closed over the Sun and blocked it out completely.

“Oh my God, it’s incredible!” shouted some, while others chanted “more, more, more!”

Many remained silent, enchanted and moved by one of nature’s spectacles.

“The truth is that even if one knows what’s going on, it is shocking the minute that the shadow of darkness begins to come and that silence begins,” said astronomer Sonia Duffau, as she choked back tears.

Total solar eclipses are rare, but what is even rarer about Tuesday’s event is that it occurred directly over an area of the Earth most prepared to study the heavenly bodies.

“Very seldom has it happened that the whole of an eclipse is seen over an observatory, the last time this happened was in ’91” at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, said Matias Jones, an astronomer at La Silla.

Both Chile and Argentina were situated under the narrow, 6,000-mile long band of Earth that experienced the eclipse.

The eclipse began at 13:01 (17:01 GMT) in the Pacific Ocean and a 95 mile (150 kilometres)-wide band of total darkness reached Chile’s coast at 4:38 pm (20:38 GMT), before crossing into southeastern Argentina and into the wastes of the South Atlantic.

 ‘Eyes of humanity’

Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera joined the crowds at La Higuera to witness the eclipse.

“Today is a very important day and one we have waited for so long,” said Pinera.

Pinera said Chile was “the capital of the world in terms of astronomy, we are the eyes and the senses of humanity, being able to look, observe and study the stars and the Universe.”

The La Silla observatory and its fleet of powerful telescopes live-streamed the event and opened the site to the public, hosting school tours along with talks and workshops.

In the capital Santiago, crowds flocked to rooftops, downtown parks and squares to witness the event. Schools closed early so that children could prepare for viewing.

Over the border in Argentina, people massed to look into the sky in the western Cuyo wine-producing region, which had the country’s longest exposure to the eclipse.

However little could be seen in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, where overcast weather blocked the view.

La Silla was one of the first international observatories installed in northern Chile. Today the region has today almost half the world’s astronomical observation capacity.

Scientists and astronomers will use data collected from studying the eclipse to verify theories and carry out experiments.

“Eclipses are a chance to study the outer part of the atmosphere, which is the corona since the moon is covering the entire central part of the Sun,” said Jones.

The next total eclipse will be visible in southern Chile on December 14, 2020.

AFP

Peru Stun Champions Chile 3-0 To Reach Copa America Final

 

Peru stunned defending champions Chile 3-0 to reach the final of the Copa America for the first time in 44 years on Wednesday.

Goals from Edison Flores, Yoshimar Yotun and Paolo Guerrero handed Peru a deserved win which sends them into a final against Brazil at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday.

The stunning upset prevented Chile’s golden generation from challenging for a third straight title, following their wins over Argentina in 2015 and 2016.

Instead, the finalists from the previous two editions will meet in Saturday’s third-place play-off in Sao Paulo.

Little was expected of Peru in the knock-out stages after they ended the group phase with a humbling 5-0 thrashing by Brazil.

But after riding their luck — and being saved by VAR three times — to beat Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-final, they were a completely rejuvenated outfit in Porto Alegre.

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“The team has gone back to its essence, passing the ball and running hard,” said goalscorer Yotun.

“The game against Brazil was tough but this will be a different match. It’s a final that’s there to be won. We have to work hard and lift this cup.”

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, the villain of that 5-0 defeat, was again faultless, as he had been in the quarter-final when decisively saving Luis Suarez’s shoot-out penalty.

He again saved a penalty and made a number of other vital stops.

“It’s painful for all of us because we fought for another title,” said Chile captain Gary Medel.

“Peru played a great match and we have to congratulate them. The played really well, worked really hard and deserve to be in the final.”

From the start, Peru dominated the reigning champions, with Christian Cueva wastefully shooting wide two minutes in after he was teed up in space by his captain Guerrero.

On seven minutes Chile’s Charles Aranguiz started and finished a superb passing move involving Alexis Sanchez and Jean Beausejour, by placing a precise shot just past the post.

Flores took advantage of an Erick Pulgar slip in midfield to dart towards goal but he dragged his weak shot woefully wide.

But a minute later he was alone at the back post to lash home left-footed from an Andre Carillo flick on from Cueva’s cross.

Timely intervention

Striker Guerrero made a timely intervention in his own area to prevent a Sanchez corner from sneaking in at the near post.

Yotun doubled the lead on 38 minutes after punishing Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias’s rush of blood to the head.

Carillo chased a long ball down the right-hand side and beat Arias, who ill-advisedly had charged from his area to the ball before picking out Yotun on the edge of the 18-yard area.

Faced with four back-tracking defenders, Yotun calmly controlled the ball on his chest and sent a low volley straight down the middle of the empty goal.

Equally importantly was Gallese’s one-hand save to tip over a Jose Fuenzalida volley a minute before the break.

A 2-0 half-time lead was the least Peru deserved after an enterprising performance against tentative opponents.

Chile were a lick of paint away from getting back into the match on 51 minutes when Eduardo Vargas’s flicked header beat Gallese but agonisingly came back off the post.

Peru should have put the game to bed on a rapier counter-attack on the hour but Guerrero and Cueva passed rather than shooting and Yotun ballooned over from six yards with the goal gaping.

Peru started sitting deeper, inviting Chile to attack and Aranguiz sent a rasping shot whistling past the top corner with Gallese a mere spectator.

Gallese then tipped over a looping volley from Beausejour and 15 minutes from time he stayed big to block a shot from Vargas one-on-one.

He was unbeatable and dived low to his right to palm out a venomous Sanchez effort from 20 yards.

Guerrero put the icing on the cake in injury time after rounding Arias, but Gallese had the last word from the penalty spot.

AFP

Chile, Argentina Set For Spectacular Solar Eclipse

Schoolchildren try special sunglasses at the Pedro Pablo Munoz school in La Higuera, Coquimbo Region, in the Atacama desert about 580 km north of Santiago, on the eve of a solar eclipse on July 1, 2019.  Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

The day will briefly turn to night Tuesday over large parts of Chile and Argentina as a total eclipse of the Sun plunges a vast swath of the southern Pacific and the cone of South America into darkness.

Both countries will be under the narrow, 6,000-mile long band that will experience a total eclipse when the Moon will completely block the Sun.

According to Chilean astronomers, the breathtaking natural phenomenon will begin at 13:01 (17:01 GMT) in the Pacific Ocean and a 95 mile (150 kilometres)-wide band of total darkness is set to reach Chile’s coast 4.38 pm (2038 GMT), then cross into southeastern Argentina.

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People in some areas under the path of the eclipse will experience more than two minutes of total darkness, the Chilean Foundation of Astronomy says.

“There’s a lot of expectation. This is a historic event in the region,” said Catalina Henriquez, who runs an astrotourism agency in Vicuna, a town 280 miles north of Santiago renowned for clear skies that have made it Chile’s “astronomy capital”.

Vicuna is part of the Coquimbo region that is dotted with observatories equipped with high-powered telescopes and where the eclipse will be strongest.

An estimated 300,000 tourists have flocked to the region where dryness, crystal-clear air and low light pollution has created a stargazers’ paradise.

Matias Badilla, 19, said his family had been anticipating the event for years. “It’s something we’ve been planning for a long time. For us, to see it so closely in such a beautiful place is something that we couldn’t miss.”

Thousands of people have descended on the nearby town of La Higuera, located on the so-called “path of totality,” where the eclipse is predicted to last longest, around 2 minutes and 36 seconds.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and several members of his cabinet will watch the event from the La Silla Observatory, on a mountain peak towering 2,400 meters over the Atacama Desert, operated by the European Southern Observatory.

The observatory and its fleet of powerful telescopes will live stream the event on the internet and has also opened to the public, hosting school tours along with talks and workshops.

“The 2019 total solar eclipse will last about 1 minute and 52 seconds from the La Silla summit. The Sun will be setting just as the entire eclipse ends and the peak of totality will happen when the Sun is a mere 13 degrees above the horizon from the view of La Silla Observatory,” the observatory said.

Further south, the capital Santiago will experience a near-total eclipse.

Solar eclipses happen when the Sun, the Moon and Earth line up, allowing the Moon to cast its shadow on Earth.

The next total eclipse will be visible in southern Chile on December 14, 2020.

AFP

Alleged Sexual Abuse: Pope Accepts Chile Cardinal Ezzati’s Resignation

Pope Francis with some Cardinals at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. Source: AFP

 

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Chilean Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati, who had agreed to step down along with his country’s bishops over sexual abuse cases and their cover-up, the Vatican said Saturday.

Ezzati, archbishop of Santiago, is the seventh senior Chilean church official to resign over a scandal which the pope insists must be remedied.

To date, Ezzati, the Catholic Church’s highest official in Chile, has maintained his right to silence although he has promised to cooperate with the investigation into his activities — if the authorities first clear him, insisting he is innocent.

The latest move in the Vatican’s attempts to deal with abuse within the higher echelons of the Roman Catholic Church comes just days after disgraced Australian Cardinal George Pell received a jail term for sexually abusing two choirboys.

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Pell, 77, and the former Vatican number three has maintained his innocence and says he plans to appeal his conviction on five offences including oral rape and molestation of the boys in 1996-1997.

The decision over Ezzati also comes with Chilean media reporting that the nation’s court of appeal had Friday confirmed he would face trial for not denouncing sexual abuse by three priests.

It also comes after Argentine Pope Francis last Monday rejected the resignation of French cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who was handed a six-month suspended jail sentence earlier this month for failing to report sex abuse by a priest under his authority. Barbarin has appealed.

The pontiff stated last month that “no abuse must ever be covered up, as has happened in the past” as the Church struggles to restore trust in its efforts to fight child abuse given the slew of abuse cases.

In October, Francis did, reluctantly, accept the resignation of US cardinal and Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, accused of helping to cover up hundreds of child abuse cases in his former diocese.

And in February the pontiff defrocked former cardinal American Theodore McCarrick, 88, who a Vatican court found guilty of sexually abusing a teenager 50 years ago.

McCarrick became the first cardinal ever to be defrocked for sex abuse.

AFP