Shifra de Benedictis-Kessner ’11 has landed in Santiago, Chile after her flight was diverted when an earthquake hit the country Saturday.
According to College spokesman Brian Whitson, de Benedictis-Kessner is involved in a joint service and academic program with the nonprofit Institute for the International Education of Students. She was flying into Santiago when an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale struck off shore of the Maule region, approximately 250 miles southwest.
De Benedictis-Kessner’s flight was diverted to Peru.
Originally it was believed she would return to the United States and that the program would not continue.
“Initially it appeared she was on her way home but it appears the IES Abroad program will continue so she is now in Santiago.” Whitson wrote in an e-mail.
The earthquake, the strongest to hit Chile since a 9.5 magnitude quake in 1960, was an estimated 500 times stronger than the earthquake which hit Haiti earlier this year.
The Chilean government estimates a death toll of 723, with 500,000 homes damaged.
A representative from IIES could not be reached for comment.
_Check back with Flathatnews.com for more on this developing story._