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Ukraine's parliament unanimously approved a series of joint military exercises with NATO countries that would put US troops in direct proximity to Russian forces in the annexed Crimea peninsula.
The exercises now scheduled in the coming months include two sets of exercises (land and sea) with the United States, two with Poland, and one with Romania.
The decision came as NATO foreign ministers gathered in Brussels for a two-day meeting dominated by concern over the recent buildup of Russian forces near Crimea that US officials estimate had at one point reached about 40,000 troops.
NATO has sought to reinforce its eastern frontier after Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula and amid concerns about Kremlin's emboldened foreign policy.
Fresh off the heels of a magnitude-8.2 earthquake off the coast of northern Chile Tuesday night, a powerful aftershock struck the country at 9:58 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
A magnitude-7.8 tremor was reported about 25 miles southwest of Iquique, Chile. It caused buildings to shake in the port of Iquique, which saw some damage from the big quake on Tuesday. There are no immediate reports of new damage or injuries.
The latest tremor came 45 minutes after a strong 6.4-magnitude aftershock shook the same area.
The shaking that began at 8:46 p.m. Tuesday also touched off landslides that blocked roads, knocked out power for thousands, damaged an airport and started fires that destroyed several businesses. Some homes made of adobe were destroyed in Arica, a city close to the quake's offshore epicenter.
About 300 inmates escaped from a women's prison in the city of Iquique, and officials said Chile's military was sending a planeload of special forces to guard against looting. According to La Tercera, the regional prosecutor for the Tarapaca region says that 100 of about 300 prisoners escaped after the earthquake have been recaptured.
President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency and was reviewing the damage in Iquique, a northern coastal city of nearly 200,000 people near where the quake struck in the Pacific Ocean. A planeload of 100 anti-riot police was deployed along with 300 soldiers to prevent looting and round up escaped prisoners.
Brazil President Dilma Roussef sent a message of support and solidarity and has promised assistance to Chile. On Twitter, she posted: "The Brazilian government will help our Chilean brothers in any way possible."
Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, river fronts and seaside resorts.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth also happened in Chile -- a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people. That quake also produced a Pacific-wide tsunami that killed dozens in Hawaii and over 100 in Japan.
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Posted by Julie on August 26, 2012 at 15:59