Verizon suspends distance fees for callers trying to reach Chile quake victims

Calls from the United States to Chile on Verizon's landline or cell phone networks will not be subject to its usual long-distance fees, the company announced last week.

The temporary break on all international calls to Chile began on February 26 and will continue until Saturday, March 6, Verizon announced. 

Additionally, Verizon has said it will not subtract minutes from customers' cell phone plans or calling cards during that week-long window.

Verizon's gesture arrives just days after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the South American country. Emergency crews fear more than 700 have died during both the natural disaster and its numerous aftershocks, and rescue efforts remain underway to free the many still trapped beneath the rubble.

"This is an excruciatingly difficult time for our customers with loved ones in Chile," said Susan Retta, vice president of consumer products for Verizon. "Waiving the calling charges will help our customers focus on tracking down and keeping in touch with their family and friends without having to also worry about the cost of the call."