MADISON, Wis. (3/2/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is attempting to find out the status of credit unions in Chile where a magnitude 8.8 earthquake ripped apart the country early Saturday. Chile has five credit unions, with 826,593 members out of a population of 16.6 million people--a 7.3% penetration rate, according to WOCCU's statistical information for 2008--the latest available. Chilean credit unions' trade association is not a member of WOCCU. Credit unions in Chile have combined assets of more than $1.5 billion. They make nearly $1.4 billion in loans. According to news reports, the death toll has reached more than 723, most of them in the Maule region, a wine growing country along the coast, where at least 541 deaths were reported. As much as 80% of some towns in the region was destroyed (The Wall Street Journal March 1). In Bio-Bio, at least 64 people died (CNN March 1). Chile's earthquake has had more than 100 aftershocks, ranging from 4.9 to 6.9 in magnitude, as well as a tsunami that killed at least eight people, with eight others missing, on the Chilean islands of Juan Fernandez and slammed into the country's coast areas. The city of Concepcion, the nation's second largest city and 70 miles from the epicenter, was hard hit, with a 15-story building collapsing. In the capital city, Santiago, which is farther north, more than 1.5 million people were without power, said CNN. The country's National Office of Emergency said Sunday more than two million people were displaced (The New York Times March 1). CNN said 500,000 homes were destroyed. Although Saturday's earthquake was much stronger and across a broader region than the recent earthquake in Haiti. Haiti's death toll--200,000--much higher. Chile has much stricter building codes for its buildings, which are built to withstand earthquakes.