The death toll from Saturday's 8.8-magnitude quake was expected to rise, especially around Concepcion, which is Chile's second-biggest city and about 70 miles from the quake's center.
President Michelle Bachelet called the quake "one of the worst tragedies in the last 50 years" in declaring Chile a "state of catastrophe" Saturday night.
Dozens of aftershocks were reported and the quake unleashed tsunami waves throughout the Pacific basin. Early waves swept coastal islands, including Robinson Crusoe, killing several people and depositing fishing boats inland.
In Concepcion, dozens of people were trapped in a flattened 14-story apartment building. A biochemical lab at the University of Concepcion caught fire and cars lay smashed and upended on streets littered with utility cables, The New York Times reported Sunday.
In Santiago, about 200 miles from the quake's center, about 600 travelers escaped from the terminal at the main airport when much of the roof collapsed. The runways were intact but the airport was closed because of the internal damage, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
In Talca, about 160 miles south of Santiago, 11 of the local hospital's 13 wings were destroyed and many homes severely damaged.
In Chillan, 70 miles from Concepcion, 300 inmates escaped through a fallen prison wall and incited a riot. More than 200 had yet to be captured as of late Saturday.
Obama led the Blair House Project, inviting members of Congress to a daylong session to discuss healthcare reform. There was little new ground covered in the meeting as Republicans asked that Democrats' proposed plans be tossed and a new start made while Democrats -- led by Obama -- suggested the issue would soon be resolved from the blueprints on the table.
And if that meant moving without Republican congressional votes, so be it. Obama, apparently ignoring the many polls that indicate the U.S. public doesn't like the overall Democratic reform plan -- said Americans don't want lawmakers to wait. He suggested there was only one poll that matters: "That's what elections are for," he said.
So Obama laid down a soft deadline of "a month's time or a few weeks' time" for bipartisanship to hit Capitol Hill.
"And if we can't (resolve the legislation), then I think we've got to go ahead and make some decision."
That means Democrats will blend the massive House of Representatives bill (cost: $1 trillion), the lengthy Senate version (cost: $890 billion) and the White House plan announced Monday (cost: $1 trillion) and bypass possible procedural roadblocks to pass legislation solely with Democratic votes.
Republicans, who say the Democrats' plans all represent a government takeover of U.S. healthcare, are decrying the possible use of the so-called nuclear option of reconciliation, just as Democrats did when Republicans used the scheme to their advantage.