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28february201020Dharamshala: Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 28 February respectfully sent message (letter) of sympathy and condolences to President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, expressing his sadness "by the loss of many lives and the extensive damage to roads and buildings as a result of the massive earthquake that struck Central Chile".

The 74 years old Nobel laureate, His Holiness in his message to the Chilean President said, prayers, sympathy and condolences to "those who have been directly affected by this tragedy".

The streets were deserted Sunday night in Concepcion, Chile's second largest city, amidst a curfew imposed to clamp down on looting a day after the South American nation was rocked by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake that has caused at least 711 lives.

An estimated 90 aftershocks continued to rattle the region since the early Saturday temblor, according to the US Geological Survey. The aftershocks included a 6.9 magnitude quake off the coast.

However, Chile appears to have been spared a higher death toll thanks to strict building laws put into effect after past earthquakes.

The government of President Michelle Bachelet imposed a 30-day state of emergency and sent 10,000 soldiers into the worst-hit regions of Maule and Biobio. The military will also oversee the distribution of food, blankets and medication to hundreds of thousands of people.

In Concepcion, a city of more than 600,000, rescue teams searched feverishly for residents trapped in a damaged apartment block.

Thirty people were pulled alive from a 14-storey building, which broke into two halves, but an unknown number remained inside. Most were asleep when the quake hit at 3.34 a.m. (1204 IST) Saturday.

While the Pacific basin was spared a major tsunami, there was major tsunami damage in Chile. In the coastal city of Talcahuano, where the surge reached nearly 5 metres from peak to trough, a bizarre exchange took place: While even larger boats landed in the city centre, entire homes floated out to sea.

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