Algeria's grief turns into fury

Grief turned into anger in Algeria amid growing accusations that the government's earthquake relief measures were inadequate.

    President Abdelaziz Bouteflika:
    At the receiving end of anger 
    against government apathy

    Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was greeted with jeers, boos and stones upon his arrival in the town of Bourmedes, where more than 1,200 people are believed to have died in Wednesday's quake. 


    he official nation-wide toll stands at 2,047.

    Hundreds of protesters hurled insults and some stones at the president, forcing him to cut short his visit after spending just a few minutes.

    "Rulers - killers" they shouted. "Get lost!" one cried. "Tents! Water! We need everything!" shouted others.

    Anger at the authorities, accused of negligence, reached a boiling point in several other earthquake-stricken areas including Algiers itself, where residents of a ruined building demanding to be re-housed scuffled with police.

    "We have old people, sick and injured people, a child with diarrhoea. ... We're not asking for the moon, just for a few officials to come and declare our area a disaster area," said Ahmed Louber, a civil servant.

    He and his neighbours from 120 destroyed apartments are crammed into a makeshift camp they erected themselves, having received no official help so far.

    Shoddy construction

    Survivors who lost their families and their homes are accusing the government of ignoring substandard construction of buildings - claiming this as the reason why public housing was flattened while private homes remain standing.

    There is also anger at the lack of temporary housing for the stricken areas, resulting in thousands sleeping in the open.

    The death toll in Wednesday's
    quake has surpassed 2,000

    The government's offer to give victims' relatives 70,000 dinars (around $8,900) for each family member who died has not enthused survivors.

    Soaring temperatures in the afternoons further inflamed  public feelings and 

    fanned fears of possible epidemics.

    Hundreds of people were left homeless by the quake, which struck at the dinner hour just as people began to tune into a major international football final on television.

    Damaged roads and crowds of anxious relatives in the worst hit areas are hampering relief efforts.

    Amid the misery, rescue workers glimpsed signs of hope on Saturday when a mother and her child were rescued from the debris of a collapsed building.


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