President says seventh most powerful earthquake on record has left between $15bn and $30bn worth of damage

The reconstruction of Chile could take up to three of four years, as the country rebuilds itself following a devastating earthquake that killed about 800 people.

The announcement was made by Chile’s president Michelle Bachelet, who told Chilean radio: “There are rural areas where everything has tumbled to the ground…infrastructure has been destroyed.”

She added that it would take foreign aid as well as most of the mandate of president-elect Sebastian Pinera to rebuild the country, with Bachelet describing the cost of damage as “enormous”, estimated at being between $15bn and $30bn.

The president said Chile would be asking for credit from the World Bank and other entities to help pay for the reconstruction.

About 1.5m homes have been damaged, and many of the buildings that collapsed were historic structures.

The earthquake was the seventh most powerful on record, with about 2.2m Chileans believed to have been affected.