MASSES of Chileans jam capital in protest against government.

SANTIAGO : Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched peacefully in Chile's capital on Friday, intensifying pressure on a government struggling to contain deadly unrest over economic hardship.

The huge throng surged towards a central plaza as participants blew whistles and banged pots and pans and carried Chilean flags posters demanding change.

The diverse crowd included students, workers, parents and their children.

''All of Chile is marching here,'' Santiago mayor Karla Rubilar said, adding that there was hope as well as sadness among the demonstrators. The official crowd estimate was i million, the mayor said.

''After what we saw in the streets of Santiago today, it's hard to imagine a way forward that does not involve'' the resignation of President Sebastin Piera and new elections, said Jenny Pribble, associate professor of political science at the University of Richmond in the United States.

Piera acknowledged the huge of turnout of Chileans, saying they marched peacefully to deliver a call for fairer and more supportive country.

''We've all heard the message. We've all changed,'' he tweeted.

Also on Friday, protesters tried to forced their way onto the ground's of Chile's congress, provoking an evacuation of the building.

Police fired tear gas to fend off hundreds of demonstrators on the perimeter as some lawmakers and administrative staff hurried out of the legislative building, which is in the port city of Valparaiso.

Earlier, truck drivers and some public transport operators went on strike around Santiago. Thousands demonstrated in other parts of the country of 18 million people in a sign that economic concessions by Piera have failed to ease public anger. [AP]


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