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Police officer Jorge Guerra took names of the missing from tearful relatives and friends.

“There are people alive. There are several people who are going to be rescued,” he said — though the next people pulled from the wreckage were dead.

The sound of chain saws, power drills and sledgehammers mixed with the whoosh of a water cannon fired at looters and the shouts of crowds that found new ways into a four-story supermarket each time police retreated. Some looters threw rocks at armored police vehicles outside the Lider market, which is majority-owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Across the Bio Bio River in the city of San Pedro, looters cleared out a shopping mall. A video store was set ablaze, two automatic teller machines were broken open, a bank was robbed and a supermarket emptied, its floor littered with mashed plums, scattered dog food and smashed liquor bottles.

“They looted everything,” said police Sgt. Rene Gutierrez, 46. “Now we’re only here to protect the building — what’s left of the building.”

The quake generated waves that lashed coastal settlements, leaving behind sticks, scraps of metal and masonry houses ripped in two. A beachside carnival in the village of Lloca was swamped in the tsunami. A carousel was twisted on its side and a Ferris wheel rose above the muddy wreckage. Adobe buildings in Talca’s town center were flattened.

State television showed scenes of devastation in coastal towns and on Robinson Crusoe Island, where it said the tsunami drove almost 2 miles (3 kilometers) into the town of San Juan Bautista. Officials said at least five people were killed there and more were missing.

Bus terminals overflowed with vacationers in Chile’s provinces trying to check on their homes. Chile’s summer vacation period ends Monday.

In Washington, the State Department urged Americans to avoid tourist and other nonessential travel to Chile. U.S. citizens in Chile were asked to contact family and friends in the United States, whether by telephone, Internet or cell-phone text messaging.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton planned to briefly visit Santiago on Tuesday as part of a five-nation Latin America trip.

Source: The Baltimore Sun and AP