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From Santiago: The whole house was rocking.

I had just returned from a vacation around midnight after six hours driving down highways and bridges that are no longer in one piece.

I went to bed around 2 a.m. and an hour and a half later, was woken by the house shaking. From the second floor, it was impossible to go downstairs — the house was rocking and we just huddled under a bedroom door frame and tried to remain standing. The sound was thunderous, horrible and the violent shaking seemed to last forever — it was like being in a small boat in the high seas under a storm.

Helplessly we leaned against the doorframe to avoid falling as the house continued to rattle and shake, we could hear how things crashed down all over the place, glass breaking, heavy objects thumping on the floor, plaster and powder flying down from the ceiling, and even the refrigerator moved on its own. Fortunately my 1960s house (which had survived two previous quakes) bore it well. Tons of books on the floor, broken glass, crafts, CDs scattered around the living room, the toilet tank overflowing, and a general mess of things that would take hours to sort out.

It was impossible to reach anyone until the morning, and still now, communication has been extremely difficult.

Of course no one slept during the night with all the aftershocks, which can still be felt here constantly. My legs seem to be permanently on unsteady ground, my breath short with every new tremor.

By Saturday evening, our neighborhood was still without electricity, and my internet and cell phone services are still completely down. In fact, only one mobile phone company has actually maintained its service today, I have learned, and it is not mine.

Most stoplights aren't working and we've been listening all day to a radio with batteries, hoping they won't run out soon.