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Relief Effort Underway For Algerian Flood Victims - 2001-11-17


Algerian authorities report that over 700 people have died from floods in the north of the country, but that figure could rise much higher. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is flying in relief supplies to Algeria to aid flood victims.

Earlier this week, the Red Cross/Red Crescent launched an appeal for aid to Algeria. Last week's downpours created raging rivers of mud that tore through the capital, Algiers, and affected much of the northwest of the country.

Considered one of the worst natural disasters since Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962, the surging waters brought down tall buildings and washed hundreds of people out to sea.

Red Cross/Red Crescent spokesman Denis McClean says seven cargo planes of relief were sent into the country on Thursday for distribution by the Algerian Red Crescent. Supplies include badly needed food, blankets, tents and medicine for more than 30,000 people left homeless. He says more relief is on its way.

"Today, the Algerian Red Crescent sent the first relief convoy to (the) town (of) Tipaza in the west of the country, where 6,000 people, at least, have been affected by the heavy rains," he said.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent says cold winter temperatures are adding to the problems of a lack of electricity, water and sanitation for the Algerians. It says that the heavy toll of the disaster is exhausting relief workers.

They are trying to care and provide meals for 10,000 people in the worst-affected areas.

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