Algeria quake toll still climbing

Some 1600 people are now known to have died in the earthquake which rocked northern Algeria Wednesday night, state radio said on Friday quoting the interior ministry.

    Quake exposed killer structures

    A source close to the Health Ministry, who asked not to be named, said that more than 2,200 may have died. Over 7000 people are known to have been injured.
      
    The worst affected area was Boumerdes, some 50 km east of Algiers, where 955 people died. In the capital itself, the toll on Friday reached 501.
      
    Entire apartment blocks crumbled like houses of cards in the quake measuring up to 6.8 on the Richter Scale, which struck just as families were getting ready for dinner.

    Anger mounted among residents of the stricken town of Boumerdes who, delving with just sledgehammers and bare hands into the debris to find their loved ones, complained that help had come too late.
       
    Some angrily accused builders of erecting unsafe structures in a quake-prone region.

    "I have no family left. My wife, my daughter, my granddaughter, my son and my grandson are dead," said soccer coach and local celebrity Brahim Ramdani as he stood beside the flattened three-storey building which had been his home.
       
    "I know you can't do anything about natural disasters, but I am angry because nobody came to help us."
       
    In the city of Reghaia, just east of Algiers, a 10-storey block of 78 apartments collapsed. About 250 bodies had been pulled out so far, rescuers said. 

    Many still trapped
     
    Thousands are believed to be still trapped under tonnes of concrete and rubble,  in other areas of Reghaia, Boumerdes and Rouiba, which lie on the eastern outskirts of Algiers.

    Aid in all forms poured in to Algeria from a host of countries and international organisations to help the north African country cope with the devastating earthquake.

    Survivors are in a state of shock

    The latest to arrive was a team of 75 rescue workers from Sweden with a dozen sniffer dogs and tonnes of relief material.

    Russia has sent a team of more than 57 rescuers, including 24 doctors, and sniffer dogs, officials said. Teams from Germany, United Kingdom and Spain are already in Algiera.

    As the rescue efforts intensified, people in Algeria's densely populated northern coastal region gingerly began returning to their homes. Many had spent the night outdoors, fearing aftershocks.


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