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Surviving a Tsunami: The story of Valdivians in 1960

From: Terrascope Radio
Series: Terrascope Radio Major Features
Length: 09:38

A college freshman travels to Chile and interviews survivors of the 1960 tsunami/earthquake.

Chilecoastsmall_small In 1960 the city of Valdivia, Chile, was the site of the most powerful earthquake in recorded history--9.5 on the Richter scale. Soon afterward the region was flooded by a devastating tsunami. Nearly 50 years later, Rodrigo Zeledon was in a group of students that traveled to Chile to learn first-hand about the disaster and its continuing impact on the city and region. In this story, he speaks with survivors of the event and hears what it was like for them and what they have learned from the city's recovery. Their stories are moving, dramatic and, ultimately, uplifting. Highlights include: --An interview with an 80-year-old woman who still vividly recalls seeing her own house float past as she stood on a hillside waiting to learn what would remain of her village. --The story of a survivor who as a young girl was on a ship in the harbor when the tsunami struck, and who now remembers being pulled back and forth by the violent currents, just missing falling into a crater that had opened up in front of the ship--but who cannot remember how she ultimately survived. --Reflections from a woman who went for refuge, with her husband and young children, to an island in the middle of the city, and who now believes that the disaster eventually brought more good than harm. This piece is an excerpt from the longer program, "Valdivia: Stories of Survival," which is also available from PRX.

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Piece Description

In 1960 the city of Valdivia, Chile, was the site of the most powerful earthquake in recorded history--9.5 on the Richter scale. Soon afterward the region was flooded by a devastating tsunami. Nearly 50 years later, Rodrigo Zeledon was in a group of students that traveled to Chile to learn first-hand about the disaster and its continuing impact on the city and region. In this story, he speaks with survivors of the event and hears what it was like for them and what they have learned from the city's recovery. Their stories are moving, dramatic and, ultimately, uplifting. Highlights include: --An interview with an 80-year-old woman who still vividly recalls seeing her own house float past as she stood on a hillside waiting to learn what would remain of her village. --The story of a survivor who as a young girl was on a ship in the harbor when the tsunami struck, and who now remembers being pulled back and forth by the violent currents, just missing falling into a crater that had opened up in front of the ship--but who cannot remember how she ultimately survived. --Reflections from a woman who went for refuge, with her husband and young children, to an island in the middle of the city, and who now believes that the disaster eventually brought more good than harm. This piece is an excerpt from the longer program, "Valdivia: Stories of Survival," which is also available from PRX.

Transcript

[R] The smell of raw fish wavers in the air. Berries, vegetables, and seaweed overflow the temporary booths. Sea lions jump from the river onto concrete pillars to be fed discarded fish. Merchants shout out the variety of fish they?re selling and market-goers crowd around interesting-looking seafood.

This would seem an unconventional place for college students to visit on spring break. We came all the way from MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts to this misty city in Chile?s southern lakes region to study something that happened decades ago. Valdivia?s central market is actually two to three meters below where it stood fifty years ago. The largest earthquake in recorded history?9.5 on the Richter scale?hit the city in 1960, destroying buildings and sinking the land. Minutes later, a giant tsunami created by the quake hit the coast, flooding the city and the entire region.

Valdivians w...
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Musical Works

Title: Stella by Starlight
Artist: Bill Evans
Album: Conversations With Myself (Track 5)
Label: Verve
Length of excerpt: 0:30

Related Website

http://web.mit.edu/terrascope/www