earthquake in Algeria, too.

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Friday, May 23, 2003 at 6:30PM :

In Reply to: for anyone interested in Turkish earthquake posted by Sadie from ? ( on Friday, May 23, 2003 at 2:11PM :

This is very sad. Another estimate I heard was 1,600 presumed dead. 2 articles.
Mass Destruction, Despair at Algeria Quake Tower

Fri May 23, 2003 04:58 PM ET
By Paul de Bendern
REGHAIA, Algeria (Reuters) - The once-proudest apartment tower in the town of Reghaia lay in smoking ruins and reeking of human flesh Friday. It was Algeria's September 11, only this time terror came from the earth and not the air.

Hundreds were crushed under this single 10-storey building when Wednesday's earthquake -- Algeria's most powerful in more than two decades -- sent it crashing to the ground.

Local residents say at least 800 inhabitants of the tower lost their lives, while the authorities put the toll nearer 300: either way, it was a scene of terrible mass destruction.

Unlike in the stricken nearby town of Boumerdes, there were no teams of foreign rescue workers and sniffer dogs searching for survivors.

Two days on and there was just a large crowd of stunned locals scrabbling on a mountain of rubble with shovels and their bare hands. You could sense their fury as they scraped away amid the dust, their haunted faces covered with makeshift masks.

"At least 1,000 people lived here. Everyone thinks more than 800 are dead," said Slimane Chabouni, a 24-year-old resident of this poor district east of the capital, Algiers.

"Deformed bodies have been taken out. You can smell the burning flesh yourself," he told Reuters.

Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said the dead from the quake, which measured 6.7 on the Richter scale, now numbered more than 1,600 and the toll was expected to rise still further.

Boumerdes accounted for about half of the latest death toll, and if the local residents in Reghaia were right this one building alone could almost account for the other half.

There were 100 separate apartments in the downtown block, known as City Soumame. Officials said there were probably only four people on average in each dwelling, but locals said at least eight would be a more precise figure.

The block crumbled under the impact of the jolt, transforming itself into a 10-meter-high mound of concrete, twisted rods, mattresses, furniture and other trappings of the lives which were cut short.

Five cranes pawed at the compacted rubble as dozens of soldiers stood by. Police barked through loudspeakers for the agitated crowd of some 500 to disperse: "People who do not live here, move on!"

Away from the chaos, a traditional-style tent with a carpeted floor had been set up for relatives to come and identify the dead in some dignity.

On the balcony of Chabouni's flat overlooking what was left of City Soumame, he showed photographs of his classmates. "He is dead. She is dead, she is dead," he said. "Here's our basketball team. My mate here with the ball in his hands, he is dead."

AGI online

(AGI) - Rome, Italy, May 22 - The Algerian authorities received aid offers and telegrams of solidarity from all over the world after the devastating earthquake that struck the northern part of the country yesterday evening. French president Jacques Chirac, who was given a very warm welcome in his visit to the former colony three months ago, was one of the first to get going: "France is very close to Algeria and its people in this terrible moment" he wrote in a telegram sent to the Algerian head of state, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Paris is arranging the flight of two military C-160 planes, carrying 120 men of the civil defence, trained dogs to help in rescue operations, and all sort of equipment. Rescue squads were also sent by Germany. A team of civil defence men departed this morning - according to the ministry of the interior - and will soon reach the critical area. "It is with great concern and sorrow that the German government acknowldeges the terrible consequences of the earthquake in Algeria" said foreign affairs minister Joschka Fischer in a statement, "the many victims and injured, all the people who are now homeless, caused great sorrow in Germany. We express our condolence to the families".

Even Japan is providing help. 18 people will leave tonight, and another 39 tomorrow, to supply humanitarian assistance to the many homeless and injured people. The squad includes doctors, nurses and experts in rescue operations. Japanese foreign affairs minister Yoriko Kawaguchi also sent a telegram of mourning.

Romano Prodi, chairman of the European commission, sent the following message to Bouteflika: "on behalf of the Commission and its personnel, I express my sincere condolence for this tragic event". A spokesman of the commission said that the EU will launch a joint aid operation as soon as the Algerian government will make a request for it, and an envoy of the humanitarian assistance bureau will reach Algeria tomorrow.

In Spain, where the earthquake was felt too, prime minister Jose' Maria Aznar expressed his condolences: "the Algerian people can count of Spain's solidarity and support". (AGI)

-- Sadie
-- signature .

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