Former Chilean President urged to apologize to 2010 tsunami victims

2013-02-07 02:23:20 GMT2013-02-07 10:23:20(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

In an early political jockeying, Chile's conservative government has called on a former liberal president and a potential contender for the 2014 presidency to apologize for her handling of the 2010 tsunami that claimed more than 500 lives.

Chilean government spokeswoman Cecilia Perez on Wednesday urged Michelle Bachelet, who was the country's president from 2006 to 2010, to "apologize" to the victims' families.

"Bachelet should publicly admit her political responsibility and break the silence to apologize to the victims," said Perez.

Following an 8.8-magnitude quake, Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi) issued a "tsunami alert" on Feb. 27, 2010. But the alert was later withdrawn, causing many families who had evacuated to return to their homes. A total of 520 people died after huge waves hit the coast.

Perez also said that the current administration of President Sebastian Pinera has reconstructed the affected areas "during these three years, while Bachelet has been abroad."

The government will maintain its commitment to finishing reconstruction before the end of Pinera's term in March 2014, Perez added.

The reconstruction work is 85 percent complete, according to the government.

Francisco Vidal, former Defense Minister in the Bachelet administration, said Bachelet will not bear any legal responsibility for the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and tsunami.

Vidal said if Bachelet is held responsible, "it would be nonsense and evidence of right-wing drama due to being defeated" in upcoming elections.

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