In Algeria, rescue teams continue to search for survivors buried under the rubble of the devastated city of E1 Asnam.
GV PAN Damaged buildings and rubble with people milling around and helicopter flying overhead 93 shots
SV TRACKING SHOT Ruined city
SV Rescues searching for people under rubble (2 shots)
SV ZOOM OUT GV Sign with people looking for survivors (2 shots)
GV Cranes lifting rubble
SV Workers clearing rubble as they look for survivors (2 shots)
SV Rescuers bringing out baby from rubble
GV Tents housing homeless with young girl looking on
SV Woman in mourning
SV Crowd collecting bread
SV People eating (2 shots)
SV Workers bringing out bodies from rubble (2 shots)
SV Plane taxiing, workers unloading supplies (4 shots)
SV Dead bodies lying on ground (2 shots)
SV Injured in hospital (6 shots)
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Background: In Algeria, rescue teams continue to search for survivors buried under the rubble of the devastated city of E1 Asnam. Relief organisations believe that over twenty thousand people were killed, fifty thousand injured and over a quarter of a million made homeless when two major earth tremors hit the town on Friday (10 October).
SYNOPSIS: The tree-lined city of E1 Asnam has been turned into slabs of concrete, heaps of plaster and mountains of rubble. The two major earthquakes which rocked the town on Friday flattened public buildings and prefabricated houses which had provided accommodation for more than one hundred thousand people. Rubble, scattered mattresses and the occasional cooking pot are all that remains of the flats built for the survivors of the 1954 earthquake which killed fifteen hundred people.
Three days after the earthquake rescuers are still searching through the ruins for survivors. So far nine-hundred people have been rescued and fifteen hundred bodies have been found. Every able-bodied person has been mobilised for the search. Security forces strictly control the roads to E1 Asnam, giving priority to ambulances and lorries carrying food and equipment.
The tremors that hit E1 Asnam were reported to have been felt as far away as Valencia in Spain where several houses developed cracks. While the Uppsala Seismological Institute in Sweden said the earthquake was so strong it caused an instrument breakdown. According to French specialists, the tremor followed an unstable fault zone that stretches from Gaves, in Tanisia to Agadir, in Morocco. Continuing tremors have hampered the search for survivors. Sifting through the rubble is a daunting task -- at times rescuers have had to amputate limbs on the spot in order to free people from their homes. Modern apartment blocks collapsed like a pack of cards and people on the ground floor had little chance to escape -- it all happened so suddenly. Being a Friday most people were at home relaxing on their day off or visiting their families for lunch.
But there are rewards for rescuers -- this two-month old baby girl was found alive and well after she had spent two nights buried under rubble. Neither of her parents appears to have survived, so she becomes one of the many orphans of the earthquake.
This little girl whose mother and five brothers have all died is too young to realise the full extent of the human tragedy. This woman has lost her entire family of nine. Food too is a major concern. As the army arrives with emergency supplies, hundreds jostle for loaves of bread. Tented village are springing up everywhere and there have been appeals for more aid. Finding temporary homes has provided the Algerian Government with an enormous problem, but they have impressed many international observers with the way they have been co-ordinating the huge relief operation.
Aid has been pouring in from all over the world. Plane loads of tents, medicine, blankets and dogs specially trained to locate people under debris have been flown in. Foreign medical teams have been hurried through immigration controls. Attempts to take large numbers of casualties to hospitals by train have been hampered by the destruction of the tracks. So wounded have to be flown out by army helicopter or taken by ambulance. Hospitals are full to overflowing and medical teams are working throughout the night to cope with the constant inflow of wounded. Bodies can be seen lying on the lawns by the civilian hospital, covered just by a cloth.
President Bendjedid Chadli has proclaimed seven days of national mourning. But the effects of the disaster will last much longer than that. The shock of the loss of over twenty thousand people will leave a permanent scar on the people of E1 Asnam, while the problems for the homeless are only just beginning.
An estimated quarter of a million people need emergency aid and shelter and these problems cannot be solved overnight.