US teen helps after Chile quake

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Anchor Marco Werman speaks with Sam Seiniger, an American teenager who happened to be in Concepcion, Chile, when that city was struck by a massive earthquake. Since then, the young American has been helping out in the relief effort.

MARCO WERMAN: It's been a deadly earthquake per month for the first three months of 2010. Turkey was the victim of today's quake. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan gave details at a news conference.

INTERPRETER: This morning at 4:32 a.m. there was an earthquake centrally located at Alzaig's Karakocan County, Basyurt Village. The quake was five kilometers below the surface and registered at a scale of six.

WERMAN: The pre-dawn earthquake surprised many residents as they slept. By sunrise the damage was apparent to these villagers.

INTERPRETER: When I got up in the morning I saw the state of the houses. I heard my neighbors screaming. There were children crying. My husband and I got out of our house. I was shocked.

INTERPRETER: All the houses were destroyed. We lost our friends and relatives.

WERMAN: Fifty-seven people were killed in all. In January an earthquake killed more than 200,000 in Haiti and last month a quake hit Chile. More than 450 died in that disaster. Chile's response was by many accounts remarkable. American teenager Sam Seiniger has not only observed that response, he's been part of it. He graduated two years early from high school in Boise, Idaho and went down to Chile for a year before college. He joined a program for medical students and was in Concepcion when the earthquake struck. Sam Seiniger, what are conditions like now in Concepcion?

SAM SEINIGER: Things have really improved over the last couple of days. The military curfew, the hours are less strict and the looting is calming down and order is getting restored. We have electricity and water should be on its way. We had it for a few hours last night, but today it's gone again. Aftershocks are getting smaller and overall things are getting a lot better.

WERMAN: I was wondering if you witnessed any of the looting you just described and the kind of military presence that showed up in the streets of Concepcion after that looting.

SEINIGER: I went to the hospital one day for about an hour on Monday, was it? I think we saw two different supermarkets; the front windows just smashed in and people run and taking everything and just sitting out front talking.

WERMAN: Now as you said, you visited a hospital and you're also living with the head of neurosurgery at the University Hospital Concepcion. What is it like for those seeking medical care? How well equipped are the hospitals to take care of those who are injured?

SEINIGER: The hospital that my, the father of the family I'm staying with works at, they got generators running and got power back as soon as they could and they're doing a great job of taking care of people. I've gone down the last three days to volunteer and help out.

WERMAN: What are you doing as a volunteer Sam?

SEINIGER: I help push carts, deliver medicine from the pharmacy to the various rooms. The Emergency Care Pharmacy got really destroyed from the earthquake, all the medicine everywhere, so I helped organize that. Doing whatever the nurses ask whether it's bringing charts back and forth or bringing medicine, helping them hold IV bags, whatever they needed. They had a ton of volunteers that showed up immediately after the earthquake and I think that really helped.

WERMAN: You're a pretty intelligent Sam, graduate two years early from high school and now at the age of 16, having lived through an earthquake in Chile, I'm just wondering did this experience change your own thoughts on your career path in medicine?

SEINIGER: I want to go into medicine to help people. I mean obviously and it was really great to see all the doctors down there and how they can help. And the father of my family has worked so much since the earthquake. During his shifts and just going in whenever he can find time. It's impressive to see how much doctors can help and I want to be able to do that someday.

WERMAN: Before this earthquake hit Concepcion, what was the thing about the city that most impressed you?

SEINIGER: Really, the one thing that impresses me the most about here is the bus system because it's so incredible. I don't know if that's the sort of answer you're looking for, but they have incredible buses and the amount of people that they carry around and how cheap they are.

WERMAN: So the buses are running again?

SEINIGER: Yeah. The other day we were walking, hitchhiking, a bus picked us up for free and the bus driver said he's carrying people for free because of the earthquake. It's good because of the lack of gas. It's hard for people to get anywhere right now because there's only a few gas stations open and the lines are huge.

WERMAN: Well Sam Seiniger we appreciate the snapshot of Concepcion. Thank you.

SEINIGER: No problem.