SALEM — Salem State University students on Friday heard a first-person perspective of a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck Chile almost 10 years ago.
Lt. Gen. Bosco Pesse was commanding the Second Army Division in Chile when an earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the country's central and southern regions on Feb. 27, 2010, killing more than 500 people.
The next day, Pesse was appointed chief of the national defense for the Maule region, an area of central Chile among the hardest hit by the disaster. As chief of national defense, Pesse commanded the army Emergency Forces and was responsible for the coordination of military-civilian response efforts there.
Pesse spoke Friday about the experience, the 2010 earthquake's effect on Chilean imports and exports, as well as the geography, geology and disaster history in Chile over the last 20 years. He also outlined how the 2010 earthquake has influenced measures adopted in Chile to be better prepared for future emergencies.
Pesse, 63, was born in Chile but lived in Ipswich as a teenager through an exchange student program in 1971. Since then, he's been close with his host family, among them Salem meteorologist Arthur Francis. Now retired from the Chilean Army, Pesse is a professor and researcher at the Army War Academy and the Center for Strategic Studies.