Iowans with ties to Chile are working to confirm their family and friends survived Saturday’s very strong earthquake. More than 700 people are confirmed dead. Webster City native Bonnie Abbas is a missionary in the South American country and has lived there some 47 years. Her sister, Sharon Abbas, who lives in Webster City, received word last night on her sister through a friend.

“She e-mailed and said that Bonnie and her roommate are fine,” Sharon Abbas says. “They don’t have any electricity, they don’t have any water and as of right now, they don’t have a telephone, so email has come in really handy.” The earthquake measured eight-point-eight on the Richter scale, one of the strongest ever recorded.

Juan Trujillo is a native of Chile who lives in Webster City. He spent the weekend trying to contact family and friends in his native country. “I’ve been on my ham radio, trying to find out information,” Trujillo says. “Yesterday was a very good day. I was able to contact Santiago and two or three other towns where I have friends of mine and friends of other friends to verify that everybody’s okay.” The earthquake prompted the issuing of tsunami warnings across the Pacific with fears of a massive disaster in Hawaii and other islands. The warning was lifted Saturday afternoon.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City