Chilean president declares emergency in capital Santiago

The Chilean president declared a state of emergency in the capital Santiago, giving the military responsibility for security after violent protests erupted over an increase in the price of metro rapid transit system tickets.

“I have declared a state of emergency and, to that end, I have appointed Major General Javier Iturriaga del Campo as head of national defence, in accordance with the provisions of our state of emergency legislation,” President Sebastian Pinera said on Friday night.

Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

After the protesters clashed with police in several parts of the city the subway system were shut.

Over 133 people were arrested for causing damage to metro stations, estimated at up to 500 million pesos ($703,500).

The unrest started after metro ticket prices were  increased from 800 pesos to 830 pesos  for peak hour travel, following a 20-peso rise in January.

The metro operator in a twitter post said, “The entire network is closed due to riots and destruction that prevent the minimum security conditions for passengers and workers.”

The Santiago Metro at 140km is the largest and most modern in South America.  As many as three million passengers  are carried each day in the metro system.

The metro is expected to remain closed for the weekend and reopen gradually next week.