SANTIAGO, Chile -- The Chilean army, enforcing emergency decrees aimed at containing widespread looting, arrested scores of people Monday for violating an overnight curfew as the country reeled from the weekend's devastating earthquake.
The death toll climbed past the 700 mark as more bodies were pulled from the ruins of cities and towns hardest hit by the magnitude-8.8 quake. The national emergency office early Monday put the number of dead at 711, up slightly from a figure given by President Michelle Bachelet on Sunday afternoon.
Faced with outbreaks of looting in Concepcion, just 70 miles from the quake's epicenter, Bachelet deployed 10,000 troops to restore order and assist in the recovery of bodies and search for survivors.
She slapped a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Concepcion, Chile's second-largest city. Most of the city's quarter-million residents seemed to heed the warning, remaining in their homes or makeshift camps overnight. But about 150 people were arrested for violating the curfew, officials said.
Deputy Defense Minister Patricio Rosende downplayed reports of roving mobs and vigilantes in suburbs around Concepcion.
"Undoubtedly, we can't have the military on every corner, but public order is in the hands of the armed forces and you must trust in that," he said.
Using the army for public security is a sensitive subject in Chile, a country that endured nearly two decades of military dictatorship until civilian democracy was restored 10 years ago.
In Concepcion, rescue efforts centered on a 15-story apartment building that collapsed onto its side. Rescue workers equipped with sniffer dogs and architectural blueprints sliced through concrete and punched triangular holes into the side of the building to search for survivors.
On Sunday, eight bodies and numerous survivors were pulled out, but many people were believed trapped. Monday morning, fire brigade commander Juan Carlos Subercaseaux reported signs of life on what had been the building's sixth floor.
"We heard knocking and some glass being broken," he told reporters at the site.
The government promised to distribute food, water and other essential supplies on Monday in Concepcion and the even harder-hit Constitucion, a coastal community about 100 miles to the northeast devastated by both the quake and, half an hour later, a tsunami that covered shattered homes with thick mud. Boats were tossed from the sea like paper toys, landing on the roofs of houses. As many as 350 people were killed in that one site alone, authorities said.
In Santiago, the capital, life crept slowly back to normal Monday morning, with many people driving to work but also facing long lines at supermarkets and gasoline stations.
As the death toll continued to rise, the government said the massive temblor, one of the strongest on record, left untold numbers missing. An estimated 2 million people were displaced, injured or otherwise impaired by the disaster.
Large parts of the country remained without water or electricity. Tent triage centers were being set up around battered hospitals as authorities implored doctors to report to work to attend the wounded. Dozens of strong aftershocks continued to rattle the disaster zone.
(Special correspondent Lauren Williams in Santiago contributed to this report.)
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GRAPHIC (from MCT Graphics, 202-383-6064): 20100301 CHILE Concepcion