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The widow of American billionaire Douglas Tompkins has begun talks with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet over the donation of a vast nature reserve in southern Chile.

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins said she had formally offered Chile 400,000 hectares of land in Patagonia to be made into national parks.

The negotiations are expected to take two years.

Douglas Tompkins, who died in December 2015 in a kayaking accident, caused controversy in the 1990s by buying up land in southern Chile and Argentina to preserve it.

Last month, Kristine McDivitt met the new Argentinean President Mauricio Macri to donate to the country 150,000 hectares of threatened wetlands near the border with Brazil, with the aim of creating the Ibera National Park.

Douglas Tompkins was a globe-trotting rock climber and skier in his youth who was the co-founder of the outdoor clothing company The North Face.

In the early 1990s Douglas Tompinks got divorced, abandoned corporate life and moved to isolated southern Chile.

With his second wife Kristine, a former CEO of outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc, he began buying up land in order to protect an ancient forest in Patagonia.Kristine McDivitt Tompkins and Michelle Bachelet

Over 25 years Douglas and Kristine Tompkins invested more than $375 million in conservation, donating part of their lands in Chile and Argentina to create four national parks.

After the meeting with President Michelle Bachelet, Kristine McDivitt said that the donation of the latest tranche of land to Chile was being made on condition that it would be used to create national parks which people could freely visit.

“The process will take a long time,” she said.

“We won’t be deciding the timing and I know there will be a compromise both sides will have to make to work through all the stages that will be necessary.

“We want people from all over the world to be able to visit these places. With the donation of these parks, Chile will be able offer a historic legacy to the world.”


In 2005, Douglas and Kristine Tompkins donated another tranche of land to Chile, 294 hectares near the Corcovado volcano, creating the sixth largest national park in Chile – the Corcovado National Park.

The North Face and Esprit founder Douglas Tompkins has died in a kayaking accident in southern Chile at the age of 72.

The clothing billionaire died of hypothermia after the kayaks he and five others were in capsized in strong waves, authorities said.

Douglas Tompkins was taken by helicopter to hospital in Coyhaique but had stopped breathing when he arrived, doctors said.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

He bought up large tracts of land in Chilean and Argentine Patagonia to keep them pristine.

A military patrol boat rescued three of the kayakers on General Carrera Lake and a helicopter lifted out the other three, the Chilean army said.

The North Face said in a statement: “Doug was a passionate advocate for the environment.

“His legacy of conservation will help ensure that there are outdoor spaces to be explored for generations to come.”

On his Chilean land, Douglas Tompkins created Pumalin Park, 1,120 sq miles of forest, lakes and fjords stretching from the Andes to the Pacific.

Douglas Tompkins also became involved in local environmental issues in Chile and Argentina and helped raise environmental awareness there.

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Chilean town of Ensenada, in the vicinity of the Calbuco volcano, is covered with tones of ash rained down following last week’s eruptions.

People living in Ensenada are now trying to save their homes and their livestock.

The roofs of a number of homes and businesses collapsed under the weight of the ash and residents feared for their sheep and cows.

Soldiers have been deployed to help with the clean-up.

The Chilean authorities have warned of the possibility of further eruptions.

Photo AP

Photo AP

They also said that should it rain, the ash could mix with debris to create dangerous mudflows.

Calbuco erupted twice last week, forcing the evacuation of more than 6,000 people.

Authorities said on April 25 that the volcano had spewed out an estimated 7,420 million cubic feet of ash.

Locals say the area looks like a grey desert with an average of 20in of ash over the town.

The authorities allowed some of the residents evacuated from Ensenada to return briefly in order to try to save some of their belongings.

On April 25, the Chilean government announced it would provide aid to cover huge financial losses incurred by local farmers and to help evacuate thousands of farm animals.

The second eruption on April 23 created a cloud of ash that rose 12 miles into the air.

Calbuco is one of around 90 active volcanoes in Chile.

Chile’s Villarrica volcano erupted in the early hours of March 3, spewing ash and lava up to 3,300ft into the air.

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated from the volcano’s vicinity in southern Chile. The mayor of the nearby town of Pucon said residents had left “calmly”.

President Michelle Bachelet said she would travel to the area on the same day to assess the situation.

The 2,840m-high Villarrica is an active volcano with a lava lake in its crater.Chile Villarrica volcano eruption 2015

It is a popular destination for hikers. Hundreds climb the peak each summer to peer inside the crater.

According to Chile’s Ministry of Mining, Villarrica’s last major eruption was in 1985.

More than 100 people are thought to have died in mudflows on the slopes of the volcano during the 20th Century.

Chilean police said the towns of Pucon and Conaripe had been evacuated as a precaution.

Pucon Mayor Carlos Parra said that after 20 minutes, the volcano’s activity seemed to have calmed down again.

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In a video posted online, Valentina Maureira, a 14-year-old Chilean girl, is asking President Michelle Bachelet to allow her to die.

The video has been viewed by thousands of people since the girl posted it.

Valentina Maureira suffers from cystic fibrosis, an incurable genetic disorder that attacks the lungs and other organs.

President Michelle Bachelet responded by visiting Valentina in hospital.

Her spokesman said Valentina Maureira could not be granted her wish but the government would pay for psychiatric treatment.Valentina Maureira President Michelle Bachelet

Valentina Maureira’s message has been viewed thousands of times on social networks, fuelling the debate in Chile over euthanasia, which is forbidden by law.

“I asked to speak urgently with the president, because I am tired of living with this disease,” the girl said.

She also said she had an older brother who died of the same illness when he was six years old so she knew what would happen to her.

Valentina Maureira’s father Fredy is supporting his daughter’s demand.

“This is so tough, but I have to respect her decision because she’s the one who’s suffering this illness,” AP quoted Fredy Maureira as saying.

Cystic fibrosis attacks the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe, among other symptoms.

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Chile has opened a new investigation into the death in 1973 of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda.

Government spokesman Francisco Ugas said there were indications that Pablo Neruda could have been poisoned.

Tests on Pablo Neruda’s exhumed body in 2013 found no trace of poison but more will now be done. His death certificate says he died of prostate cancer.

Pablo Neruda died 12 days after the military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.

Photo AFP/Getty Images

Photo AFP/Getty Images

Although he was best known for his poetry, Pablo Neruda was a lifelong member of Chile’s Communist Party, a lawmaker and a former ambassador to France.

Pablo Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

New forensic tests on Pablo Neruda’s remains will be looking for inorganic or heavy metals to try to determine a direct or indirect cause of death, officials said.

The investigation will focus on detecting if chemical agents caused any cellular or protein damage.

The previous tests looked specifically for the remains of poison.

“There is initial evidence that he was poisoned and in that sense the signs point to the intervention of specific agents,” Francisco Ugas, who is head of the government’s humans rights department, said.

Pablo Neruda’s body was exhumed in April 2013 to establish whether he died of poisoning, as his driver Manuel Araya and others suspected.

Manuel Araya said Pablo Neruda, who was 69, had called him from hospital in Santiago, and told him he was feeling sick after having been given an injection in the stomach.

Some believe Pablo Neruda was poisoned because he was a staunch supporter of deposed President Salvador Allende and it was believed he would become a leader of opposition to the dictatorship.

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Ricardo Izurieta, Chile’s ex-army commander, has passed away at his home aged 71.

Gen. Ricardo Izurieta succeeded Augusto Pinochet as army commander in 1998, during the country’s difficult transition towards democracy.

In a statement, the army praised Ricardo Izurieta for uniting Chilean society.

He helped set up a human rights commission to investigate serious abuses committed during military rule.

The commission’s work led the military to admit that it had dropped the bodies of political prisoners into the sea during the dictatorship.

Lieutenant-General Ricardo Izurieta took over from General Augusto Pinochet as commander-in-chief of the Army in March 1998

Lieutenant-General Ricardo Izurieta took over from General Augusto Pinochet as commander-in-chief of the Army in March 1998

Ricardo Izurieta took over from Gen. Augusto Pinochet as commander-in-chief of the Army in March 1998 and stayed in the post until 2002.

Augusto Pinochet had seized power in a coup in 1973 and stood down as president in 1990. But remained as army commander for another eight years.

During the 1973-1990 period Augusto Pinochet led the brutal persecution to supporters of the deposed Socialist President, Salvador Allende.

According to official figures, 40,018 people were victims of human rights abuses in the Pinochet years and 3,065 were killed or disappeared.

Ricardo Izurieta was appointed to replace Augusto Pinochet as army commander by Chile’s democratically-elected President, Eduardo Frei.

“He united the army and the whole Chilean society, without excluding anyone,” the army said in a statement.

The Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, also praised Gen. Ricardo Izurieta role in Chile’s democratic transition.

“He was someone I could rely on in difficult times,” said Jose Miguel Insulza, who was forced to leave Chile after the 1973 coup.

Ricardo Izurieta will be buried at the Military Academy in Santiago on Tuesday. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Augusto Pinochet died in hospital in December 2006, aged 91.

In October 1998, he was arrested while on holiday in London.

The Spanish government sought to put Augusto Pinochet on trial in Madrid over the deaths of its citizens in Chile, but he was released and returned to Santiago in March 2000.

Ricardo Izurieta was at the Air Force base in Santiago to welcome his former commander.

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Six victims of Augusto Pinochet’s military government have been reburied in Chile more than 40 years after they were killed.

The remains of the six men were discovered in an unmarked grave in 1992.

The men were among dozens of people killed by a military unit in late 1973, just weeks after General Augusto Pinochet came to power in a coup.

His officials flew around the country in helicopters, and executed political prisoners by firing squad.

Carlos Berger, Carlos Escobedo, Luis Moreno, Hernan Moreno, Mario Arguelles and Jeronimo Carpanchay were killed in the northern Chilean city of Calama.

Journalist Carlos Berger was murdered on October 19, 1973, by the infamous Caravan of Death during General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship

Journalist Carlos Berger was murdered on October 19, 1973, by the infamous Caravan of Death during General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (photo MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Carlos Berger, a lawyer and journalist, had been arrested on September 11, 1973, after refusing to broadcast a government message at the radio station where he worked.

His and the other men’s remains were identified after extensive forensic tests in Europe, and finally buried in a ceremony at the main cemetery in the Chilean capital, Santiago.

The six men were murdered by what became known as the Caravan of Death, in one of the most notorious episodes of the Pinochet government.

General Augusto Pinocher sent the “delegation” of military men to Chile’s provincial towns because he was reportedly annoyed that some commanders there had been “soft” on political opponents.

The Caravan of Death is thought to have killed 97 opponents of the military coup.

According to official figures, 40,018 people were victims of human rights abuses during the 1973-1990 Pinochet government and 3,065 were killed or disappeared

More than 150 homes have been destroyed by a huge forest fire in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso.

Thousands of people are being evacuated from Valparaiso to escape the flames, which have been fanned by strong winds coming in from the Pacific.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet put the army in charge of the evacuation after declaring the city, 70 miles west of capital Santiago, a catastrophe zone.

There are no reported deaths but many are suffering from smoke inhalation.

More than 150 homes have been destroyed by a huge forest fire in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso

More than 150 homes have been destroyed by a huge forest fire in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso

Large parts of Valparaiso are without electricity.

Valparaiso’s mayor, Jorge Castro, told Chile’s National Television that refuges have been set up for the thousands of residents that have been forced to flee the fire.

“Valparaiso is without electricity at the moment and this means the flame column is creating a Dante-esque panorama and is advancing in an apparently uncontrollable manner,” Jorge Castro said.

The battle to contain the blaze has been hampered by strong Pacific coast winds that have pushed the fire deeper into Valparaiso’s neighborhoods.

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A second 7.6-magnitude earthquake has rocked northern Chile, just over 24 hours after an 8.2 tremor killed six people, destroyed 2,600 houses and led to mass evacuations.

A tsunami alert in Chile and Peru was again issued, but was later lifted after waves of 2.4ft hit coastal areas.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet was among those evacuated on Thursday.

The quake is the strongest of several aftershocks following Tuesday’s tremor.

There have been no reports of damage from the latest quake.

The aftershock caused buildings to wobble and people to run into the streets in the port of Iquique, which was one of the cities hit by Tuesday night’s quake.

The latest quake was centered 14 miles south of Iquique.

A second 7.6-magnitude earthquake has rocked northern Chile, just over 24 hours after an 8.2 tremor killed six people, destroyed 2,600 houses and led to mass evacuations

A second 7.6-magnitude earthquake has rocked northern Chile, just over 24 hours after an 8.2 tremor killed six people, destroyed 2,600 houses and led to mass evacuations (photo AFP)

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the aftershock had a depth of 12 miles and was felt across the border in southern Peru, where people in the cities of Tacna and Arequipa also fled buildings.

President Michelle Bachelet had earlier praised the “calm behavior” of residents following Tuesday evening’s quake.

Nearly a million people were evacuated across the country after the authorities issued a tsunami warning.

“I think you have shown us all a tremendous example,” Michelle Bachelet said during a visit to the worst affected areas.

Michelle Bachelet declared northern provinces – Arica and Parinacota, and Tarapaca – disaster areas.

Tuesday’s quake struck at 20:46 local time 52 miles north-west of the city of Iquique, a mining area,

“We are here to recognize the calm behavior of the people of Iquique, who showed great civic responsibility, as did those of Arica,” said Michelle Bachelet.

Fires destroyed some businesses in the area and fishermen found their boats sunken and damaged in Iquique harbor.

Michelle Bachelet called on residents to “work together now” to repair the damage caused by the quake.

Waves of up to 6ft hit some areas.

Some 40,000 people in Tarapaca remain without power, said Ricardo Toro of Chile’s National Emergency Office (Onemi).

Hours after the first major earthquake, Chile’s army was deployed to Iquique after 293 inmates escaped from a women’s jail.

Ricardo Toro said that 131 had now returned voluntarily.

Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world.

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Chile has deployed military forces to the northern city of Iquique after more than 300 inmates escaped from a women’s jail following last night’s 8.2-magnitude earthquake.

Officials said about 26 had so far been captured since the quake at 20:46 local time on Tuesday.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has declared disaster areas in the northern regions of Arica and Parinacota and Tarapaca, and will visit them later.

At least six people are known to have died and tens of thousands evacuated.

There have been power cuts, fires and landslides as dozens of aftershocks – including a 6.2 tremor – continued through the night.

Chile has deployed military forces to the northern city of Iquique after more than 300 inmates escaped from a women's jail following last night’s 8.2-magnitude earthquake

Chile has deployed military forces to the northern city of Iquique after more than 300 inmates escaped from a women’s jail following last night’s 8.2-magnitude earthquake

But although waves of up to about 6ft hit some areas tsunami warnings in several areas have now been lifted.

It was not clear exactly how the women inmates escaped from the prison in Iquique.

But Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said a military plane of 100 anti-riot police was being flown to work alongside 300 soldiers already operating in the city.

They will be tracking down the prisoners as well as preventing “looting and disorder”, Chilean authorities said.

The quake struck about 52 miles north-west of Iquique, a mining area.

The tremors set off landslides that blocked roads, hit power supplies, damaged a number of homes and caused fires in some businesses.

Officials said the dead included people who were crushed by collapsing walls or died of heart attacks.

Iquique Governor Gonzalo Prieto told local media that in addition to those who died, several people had been seriously injured.

The tsunami alert sent tens of thousands fleeing coastal areas of Chile. Television pictures showed traffic jams as people tried to head for safer areas.

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Three of the Chilean northern regions have been declared disaster areas after being hit by last night’s 8.2-magnitude earthquake.

At least five people are known to have died and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated.

The quake struck at 20:46 local time about 52 miles north-west of the mining area of Iquique, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Waves of up to 6ft have hit some areas and there have been power cuts, fires and landslides.

The government said the declaration of a disaster in the Arica, Parinacota and Tarapaca regions was aimed at “avoiding instances of looting and disorder”.

Three of the Chilean northern regions have been declared disaster areas after being hit by last night's 8.2-magnitude earthquake

Three of the Chilean northern regions have been declared disaster areas after being hit by last night’s 8.2-magnitude earthquake

President Michelle Bachelet said Chile had “faced the emergency well” and called on those in affected regions “to keep calm and follow instructions from the authorities”.

She is due to visit the affected areas later.

Chilean TV broadcast pictures of traffic jams as people tried to leave the affected areas.

Officials said the dead included people who were crushed by collapsing walls or died of heart attacks.

Iquique Governor Gonzalo Prieto told local media that in addition to those killed, several people had been seriously injured.

While the government said it had no reports of significant damage to coastal areas, a number of homes were reported destroyed in Arica.

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Northern Chile has been hit by an 8.2-magnitude earthquake, triggering a tsunami alert and killing at least five people.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake struck at 20:46 local time about 52 miles north-west of the mining area of Iquique.

Waves of up to 6ft have hit some areas in Chile, and there have been power cuts, fires and landslides.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated in affected areas, where a state of emergency has been declared.

Chilean TV broadcast pictures of traffic jams as people tried to leave.

Officials said the dead included people who were crushed by collapsing walls or died of heart attacks.

Iquique Governor Gonzalo Prieto told local media that in addition to those killed, several people had been seriously injured.

While the government said it had no reports of significant damage to coastal areas, a number of adobe homes were reported destroyed in Arica.

Chile has been hit by an 8.2-magnitude earthquake, triggering a tsunami alert and killing at least five people

Chile has been hit by an 8.2-magnitude earthquake, triggering a tsunami alert and killing at least five people (photo ABC News)

Further damage may not be known until dawn. The tsunami warning in Chile will last at least until 05:00 local time.

The quake shook modern buildings in Peru and in Bolivia’s high altitude capital of La Paz – more than 290 miles from Iquique.

At least eight strong aftershocks followed in the few hours after the quake, including a 6.2 tremor.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo told Chilean TV that some 300 women inmates had escaped from a prison in Iquique. The authorities are reported to have deployed a planeload of special forces to guard against looting.

He said President Michelle Bachelet was being kept informed. She is to travel to the affected area.

“We have taken action to ensure public order in the case of Iquique, where we’ve had a massive escape of more than 300 female prisoners, so that the armed forces and police can coordinate and provide security to the residents,” Rodrigo Penailillo said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (TWC) issued an initial warning for Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.

However, all warnings, watches and alerts were later lifted except for Chile and Peru.

Tsunami watches – in which the danger of tidal waves is deemed to be less serious – had been in place for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras.

“Everyone along our coast should be alert and ready,” Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said on Twitter.

Ecuador later reduced its alert but maintained a high level of vigilance for the Galapagos Islands.

High waves hit parts of the Chilean coast within 45 minutes of the quake. Pisagua, Patache and Iquique all saw big waves.

“We have asked citizens to evacuate the entire coast,” Chilean home office minister Mahmud Aleuy said.

Evacuations were also ordered in Peru, where waves 6.5ft above normal forced about 200 people to leave the seaside town of Boca del Rio near the Chilean border, police said.

The area close to the epicentre is mineral rich, but none of the major copper companies reported any break in production.

Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world.

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A 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit off the northern coast of Chile on Sunday evening, prompting a brief evacuation of part of a coastal area but not causing any injuries or significant damage.

The strong quake – originally measured as a 7.0 – was centered 37 miles west-northwest of Iquique and struck at a depth of 12.4 miles, the US Geological Survey said Sunday. It hit at 6.16 p.m. local time.

A 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit off the northern coast of Chile on Sunday evening

A 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit off the northern coast of Chile on Sunday evening

An emergency office said there was no major damage resulting from the quake, except for two small roadside rock falls in the Arica and Parinacota region.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no tsunami was expected.

A second quake, a 5.1 at almost the exact same location, followed 10 minutes later. An aftershock at 6.2 followed about six hours later.

The whale graveyard found beside the Pan-American Highway in Chile is one of the most astonishing fossil discoveries of recent years.

Now scientists think they can explain how so many of the animals came to be preserved in one location more than five million years ago.

It was the result of not one but four separate mass strandings, they report in a Royal Society journal.

The evidence strongly suggests the whales all ingested toxic algae.

The dead and dying mammals were then washed into an estuary and on to flat sands where they became buried over time.

It was well known that this area in Chile’s Atacama Desert preserved whale fossils.

Their bones could be seen sticking out of rock faces, and the spot acquired the name Cerro Ballena (“whale hill”) as a result.

But it was only when a cutting was made to widen the Pan-American Highway that US and Chilean researchers got an opportunity to fully study the fossil beds.

They were given just two weeks to complete their field work before the heavy plant returned to complete construction of the new road.

The team set about recording as much detail as possible, including making 3D digital models of the skeletal remains in situ and then removing bones for further study in the lab.

Identified in the beds were over 40 individual rorquals – the type of large cetacean that includes the modern blue, fin and minke whales.

Among them were other important marine predators and grazers.

The whale graveyard found beside the Pan-American Highway in Chile is one of the most astonishing fossil discoveries of recent years

The whale graveyard found beside the Pan-American Highway in Chile is one of the most astonishing fossil discoveries of recent years

“We found extinct creatures such as walrus whales – dolphins that evolved a walrus-like face. And then there were these bizarre aquatic sloths,” recalls Nicholas Pyenson, a palaeontologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The team immediately noticed that the skeletons were nearly all complete, and that their death poses had clear commonalities. Many had come to rest facing in the same direction and upside down, for example.

This all pointed to the creatures succumbing to the same, sudden catastrophe; only, the different fossils levels indicated it was not one event but four separate episodes spread over a period of several thousand years.

The best explanation is that these animals were all poisoned by the toxins that can be generated in some algal blooms.

Such blooms are one of the prevalent causes for repeated mass strandings seen in today’s marine animals.

If large quantities of contaminated prey are consumed, or the algae are simply inhaled – death can be rapid.

“All the creatures we found – whether whales, seals or billfishes – fed high up in marine food webs and that would have made them very susceptible to harmful algal blooms,” said Dr. Nicholas Pyenson.

The researchers believe the then configuration of the coastline at Cerro Ballena in the late Miocene Epoch worked to funnel carcases into a restricted area where they were lifted on to sand flats just above high tide, perhaps by storm waves.

This would have put the bodies beyond marine scavengers. And, being a desert region, there would have been very few land creatures about to steal bones either.

A lot of the fossils at Cerro Ballena are perfect but for a few nicks inflicted by foraging crabs.

The researchers are not in a position to say for sure that harmful algal blooms were responsible for the mass strandings. There were no distinct algal cell fragments in the sediments; such a presence could have amounted to a “smoking gun”. What the team did find, however, were multiple grains encrusted in iron oxides that could hint at past algal activity.

Cerro Ballena is now regarded as one of the densest fossil sites in the world – certainly for whales and other extinct marine mammals. The scientists calculate there could be hundreds of specimens in the area still waiting to be unearthed and investigated.

The University of Chile in Santiago is currently working to establish a research station to carry this into effect.

The Smithsonian has put much of its digital data, including 3D scans and maps, online at cerroballena.si.edu.

Michelle Bachelet has won Chilean presidential election for a second time, defeating her run-off rival Evelyn Matthei by a wide margin.

With nearly 90% of the vote counted, leftist Michelle Bachelet had 62% to 38% for Evelyn Matthei, a former minister from the ruling centre-right coalition.

Michelle Bachelet first served as president between 2006 and 2010, after which she was obliged by electoral laws to stand down.

She narrowly missed out on outright victory in the first round last month.

“I am happy with the result and victory and I shall be a president for everyone in Chile,” Michelle Bachelet, 62, said as she received a congratulatory telephone call from outgoing President Sebastian Pinera, according to Reuters.

At a speech to supporters, Michelle Bachelet said: “I am proud to be your president-elect today. I am proud of the country we’ve built but I am even more proud of the country we will build.”

Michelle Bachelet has won Chilean presidential election for a second time, defeating her run-off rival Evelyn Matthei by a wide margin

Michelle Bachelet has won Chilean presidential election for a second time, defeating her run-off rival Evelyn Matthei by a wide margin

She is now set to become the first leader in Chile to serve two terms since the military rule of General Augusto Pinochet in 1973 to 1990.

Upon hearing the news, her supporters have been celebrating on the streets by waving flags and sounding car horns in the capital Santiago.

“It is clear at this point. She won. And we congratulate her. Later on, I will go speak with her personally,” Evelyn Matthei, 60, told reporters.

Official results of Sunday’s run-off are expected soon. Turnout appears to have been lower than expected.

A pediatrician by training, Michelle Bachelet won 47% of the vote in the first round on November 17. Evelyn Matthei secured 25%.

Michelle Bachelet leads an alliance of her Socialist Party, Christian Democrats and Communists and has campaigned on policies designed to reduce the gap between rich and poor.

Chile is one of the richest countries in Latin America, but millions have staged protests over the past few years to push for a wider distribution of wealth and better education.

Michelle Bachelet wants to increase taxes to offer free university education and reform political and economic structures dating from the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Evelyn Matthei, 60, entered the race after two candidates of the centre-right alliance resigned earlier this year – one for alleged financial irregularities, the other one after struggling with depression. She has called for a continuation of the policies of outgoing President Sebastian Pinera, asserting that Chileans are “better off” now than when he came to power four years ago.

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Argentina and Chile have ordered the evacuation of some 3,000 people living near the Copahue volcano in the south of their shared border.

The authorities in both countries issued a red alert – the highest possible – saying the Chilean volcano could erupt imminently.

The 2,965 m (nearly 10,000ft) volcano – which sits in the Andes cordillera – has so far only spewed gas.

Thousands of minor earth tremors have been registered in the area.

“This red alert has been issued after monitoring the activity of the volcano and seeing that it has increased seismic activity,” Chilean Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said in a news conference.

“There is a risk that it can start erupting.”

According to Chile’s Emergency Office, the evacuation will affect some 460 families living within a 25km (15 miles) radius of Copahue.

Argentina and Chile have ordered the evacuation of some 3,000 people living near the Copahue volcano

Argentina and Chile have ordered the evacuation of some 3,000 people living near the Copahue volcano

It said it could last about 48 hours, but could be delayed because of heavy rains in the region.

In Argentina, the authorities had first declared a “yellow alert,” but later revised it to the highest level.

They have now ordered the evacuation of about 600 people from the town of Caviahue to the neighboring city of Loncopue.

Last December, Chile also issued a red alert after Copahue – one of the most active volcanoes in the region – began spewing ash and gas, with smoke raising nearly 1.5km in the sky.

Nearby residents were temporarily evacuated, and planes flying over the southern Andes warned to avoid the area.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled last year due to the eruption of another volcano in southern Chile.

The Puyehue eruption caused huge economic damage not only to property in the area but also to tourism in Bariloche and other resorts.

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The authorities in Argentina and Chile have issued an alert over increased activity at the Copahue volcano, which has begun spewing smoke and gas.

Many residents have already left the area as a precaution.

An orange volcano alert, the second highest, has been issued in both countries.

The 3,000 m (10,000 ft) volcano is in Argentina’s south-western Neuquen province, which borders the Biobio region of Chile.

The authorities in Argentina and Chile have issued an alert over increased activity at the Copahue volcano, which has begun spewing smoke and gas

The authorities in Argentina and Chile have issued an alert over increased activity at the Copahue volcano, which has begun spewing smoke and gas

Ash has been raining down on the nearby villages of Copahue, Caviahue and Zapala.

Residents who have stayed behind have been told to monitor the situation and be prepared to evacuate.

Planes flying over the southern Andes have also been warned.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled last year due to the eruption of Puyehue volcano, in Chile.

A coalition of 15 states, members of European Union, has announced plans to build the biggest telescope in the world.

The mirror inside the telescope will measure 39 metres across – four times wider than today’s biggest telescope – and it will be so powerful that astronomers will even be able to observe dark, rocky planets far beyond our solar system.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) project is supported by 15 members of the European Union and has the catchy name “European Extremely Large Telescope”… even if it will be built in Chile’s Atacama Desert, to avoid light pollution.

The twin infrared/optical telescope will sit on top of a 3,060 metre mountaintop, giving unparralled views of the sky above, and should hopefully come online in 2022.

Astronomers hope the observatory will help provide insights into the formation of galleries and the nature of black holes

They also hope to shed light on two of the biggest mysteries of our universe – the formation of “dark matter”, which cannot be directly observed but is hypothesized to make up most of the mass of the universe, and “dark energy”, which appears to driving the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.

ESO project is supported by 15 members of the European Union and has the catchy name “European Extremely Large Telescope” even if it will be built in Chile's Atacama Desert, to avoid light pollution

ESO project is supported by 15 members of the European Union and has the catchy name “European Extremely Large Telescope” even if it will be built in Chile's Atacama Desert, to avoid light pollution

ESO agreed to the optical/infrared telescope in Garching, Germany, (E-ELT) Programme, pending confirmation of final referendums.

All of ESO’s member states have already expressed very strong support for the E-ELT project.

At the council meeting, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland voted in favor of the start of the E-ELT programme.

Four further countries voted in favor ad referendum: Belgium, Finland, Italy, and the UK.

The project has an estimated cost of 1,083 million Euros ($1,320 million).

ESO director general, Tim de Zeeuw said: “This is an excellent outcome and a great day for ESO.

“We can now move forward on schedule with this giant project.”

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the ESO. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

The team operates three observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor.

At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes.

 

Relatives of victims of General Augusto Pinochet’s military rule in Chile have protested against plans to pay homage to the late dictator this weekend.

They held a rally in Santiago, calling for the screening of a new pro-Pinochet documentary to be banned.

The relatives say it is insensitive, but the government says it is a private event and it will not intervene.

More than 3,000 people disappeared or were killed during General Augusto Pinochet’s rule, which ended in 1990.

Relatives of victims of General Augusto Pinochet's military rule in Chile have protested against plans to pay homage to the late dictator this weekend

Relatives of victims of General Augusto Pinochet's military rule in Chile have protested against plans to pay homage to the late dictator this weekend

General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled the South American nation for 17 years, died in 2006.

The protesters held a rally at a former detention and torture centre in the Chilean capital.

Many wore photos of their relatives.

“In Chile, state-sponsored terrorism existed. Forced disappearances existed. Torture existed. Executions. And the systematic violation of hundreds of Chileans. We cannot allow this. We can’t allow a tribute to this,” Alejandra Arriaza, of the Corporation for the Promotion and Defence of People’s Rights was quoted as saying by the AP news agency.

The documentary, Pinochet, will be screened in a theatre in Santiago on Sunday.

The organizers say it aims to show General Augusto Pinochet as he really was, and not as the media portrayed him – as a ruthless dictator.

Right-wing politicians and former members of the Chilean military have been invited.

The controversy shows how divisive General Augusto Pinochet remains, nearly four decades after the coup that brought him to power.

For some he was a hero who saved Chile from Communism, but for others he was as brutal murderer who should be reviled, not applauded.

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A plane of Chile Air Force, having 21 people aboard, including a popular local television host, crashed in the Juan Fernandez Islands off the country’s Pacific coast, authorities said.

Leopoldo Gonzalez, Juan Fernandez’s mayor said the plane tried without success to land at the islands’ airport, which is 515 miles from Chile’s coast.

A Chilean air force plane with 21 people aboard, including a popular local television host, crashed in the Juan Fernandez Islands off the country's Pacific coast

A Chilean air force plane with 21 people aboard, including a popular local television host, crashed in the Juan Fernandez Islands off the country's Pacific coast

“The accident must be accepted as a fact,” Gonzalez said in an interview with Television Nacional de Chile.

Rescuers were searching for the wreckage of the plane but so far they have only found some equipment, the mayor said.

Andres Allamand, defence minister said searchers faced “particularly adverse” conditions, adding that the plane’s status was still listed as missing.

Felipe Camiroaga, one of Chile’s most popular television presenters, was on the flight, Mayor Gonzalez said.

Felipe Camiroaga, 44, worked for the state TV channel’s Good Morning Everyone programme, and was travelling to the islands for a story on the reconstruction following the 27 February magnitude-8.8 earthquake and tsunami that wiped out its main town.

Felipe Camiroaga, one of Chile's most popular television presenters, was on the flight

Felipe Camiroaga, one of Chile's most popular television presenters, was on the flight

Also on board was businessman Felipe Cubillos, who had been working on post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.

The Chilean air force plane took off from the capital, Santiago, at 2:00 p.m. local time and lost contact with air control almost four hours later, according to a statement from aviation authorities.

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