x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

A moving quake

The Chilean quake has moved nations, showing again that relief can be a global effort.

'Small earthquake in Chile: Not many dead." Thus ran a famous, possibly apocryphal headline in The Times of London some years ago. For insularity it ranks alongside another gem: "Fog in Channel: continent cut off." The reaction to Sunday's large earthquake in Chile shows how the world has changed. Globalisation might be blamed for many things, including job losses and the decline of traditional industries, but it reveals that we are more closely linked than ever before.

The Chilean president Michelle Bachelet said that two million Chileans had been affected by the 8.8-magnitude earthquake, one of the largest on record, with at least 300 people dead. As well as being visibly moved by the spectacle, she acknowledged the messages of support from across the world, including the United States, Mexico, Great Britain, the European Union, and the United Nations. The earthquake will be a major challenge for Sebastian Pinera, a right-wing billionaire, who was elected president in January and who takes office in two weeks.

But at a time when everyone feared that the global financial crisis would result in trade wars and protectionism, it is heartening to note that there are offers of help and a genuine concern for people's welfare, however far away from us they may live.