Although the death toll in the Algerian earthquake which flattened the city El Asnam is now estimated at less than 3,000 with almost 9,000 injured, relief at the lower-than-expected number of victims is outweighed by growing concern for the homeless.
GV & SVs Earthquake damage at El Asnam, Algeria. (2 SHOTS)
CU PULL BACK & ZOOM FROM Woman standing on ruins to man in face mask searching in debris.
CU Other rescue workers in face masks.
GV & SV Wreckage of Cheliff Hotel. (2 SHOTS)
SV PAN Crop-spraying aircraft flying overhead pouring out disinfectant.
GV & SV Ruined buildings on town outskirts. (4 SHOTS)
GV PAN & CU Bulldozers levelling rubble. (4 SHOTS)
SV & CU Residents being treated in hospital. (4 SHOTS)
CU & SV Woman on stretcher put into ambulance.
LV PAN & CU Tent refugee camp on El Asnam outskirts. (5 SHOTS)
GV PAN Military provided camp for dispossessed outside El Asnam with armed soldier on patrol.. (2 SHOTS)
SV PAN Family moving belongings from truck into tent.
LV & CU Soldiers standing beside stacks of supplies, distributing them from inside large tent. (2 SHOTS)
SV PAN & CU People queueing with containers at water tanker. (2 SHOTS)
LV PAN Italian Red Cross workers in front of first aid vehicle.
CU & LV PAN Woman standing in front of lean-to building. (2 SHOTS)
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Background: Although the death toll in the Algerian earthquake which flattened the city El Asnam is now estimated at less than 3,000 with almost 9,000 injured, relief at the lower-than-expected number of victims is outweighed by growing concern for the homeless. About 100,000 people who have lost their homes and possessions are living in tent cities with little protection against approaching winter. And as was predicted, milder tremors continue to shake the area.
SYNOPSIS: For the second time in 26 years the city of El Asnam lies in rubble. Heavy earth tremors began on October the 10th leaving 80-percent of the Algerian city in ruins. The city had become a major commercial and manufacturing centre after being rebuilt on the site of the 1954 earthquake which killed 1500 people. Now the disaster has repeated itself, with double the toll.
When the two-storey Cheliff hotel collapsed 135 guests and staff died.
There was a danger of a cholera outbreak as sewage systems were torn apart. Mass vaccinations were carried out immediately after the 'quake and widespread spraying of disinfectants began late last week after all refugees were evacuated. Some buildings crumbled while other simply bulged in the middle.
El Asnam, situated about half way between Oran and Algiers, lies on a major geological fault running from eastern Tunisia to western Morocco. This quake, ten times more powerful than the earlier one, was strong enough to rock houses across the Mediterranean in southern Spain and caused a breakdown at the Swedish Seismological Institute in Uppsala.
The badly injured survivors were taken by hundreds of ambulances to hospitals in Oran and Algiers, straining their facilities. Medical teams from France, Switzerland and Tunisia flew in to flew in to help. Rescue workers continued to find bodies two weeks later.
The homeless have been accommodated mostly in tent villages on the outskirts of the city. But a few families are reported to have been allowed to build shanties of wood and cardboard near the rubble that was once houses. Aid in the form of supplies and money continues to pour in from all over the world.
But concern is growing about housing the survivors before winter seats inn and the region is gripped by ice-cold winds and snow. Plans in the official schedule provide for the erection of temporary pre-fabricated housing.
Less than a week after the 'quakes began, President Chadli Benjedid placed the entire disaster area under army administration, a measure just short of martial law. At least six looters have been given sentences of up to 15 years and food distribution is being handled in an orderly fashion by the military.
A giant Italian water factory used in Udine after a Friule earthquake several years ago, was brought in by the Italian navy. This and other water purifiers take care of the immediate needs of the area.
The Algerian government will not repeat the mistake the french government made after the previous quake levelled the colonial city of Orleansville. British and other seismologists are helping to find a safer site for the city of El Asnam.