State Department recommends postponing travel to Chile By Michelle Baran / March 01, 2010 Share 1 -- The U.S. State Department on Sunday issued a travel alert urging U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and nonessential travel to Chile following an 8.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the country on Saturday.The earthquake struck in central Chile, about 200 miles south of the country’s capital and largest city, Santiago. More than 700 people have been killed by the massive quake, according to reports.Santiago International Airport has been closed to all but military operations, the State Department reported."We are working now with all clients in-house and those due to arrive in the coming days, as the airport in Santiago remains closed," said Pedro Barraza, Abercrombie & Kent's regional managing director of South America."A provisional terminal is being opened and the government expects international flights to resume within the next 48 hours."Barraza is based in Santiago. He said that the city is returning to normal and that operations in the major tourist destinations of Patagonia, Atacama, the Lake District and Easter Island have not been affected.Strong aftershocks are likely for weeks, the State Department cautioned.