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Powerful Earthquake Strikes Algeria - 2003-05-22


A powerful earthquake that struck northeastern Algeria late Wednesday has left more than 1,000 people dead and nearly 7,000 others injured. Brian Purchia has more.

As rescue workers search through mounds of rubble in the densely populated region along the west coast, Algeria's Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia says he fears the death toll could still rise.

AHMED OUYAHIA, ALGERIAN PRIME MINISTER
“What is worrying is that there are still many under the rubble. The emergency services, the army, the population are currently working admirably hard. We will get through, but unfortunately it's not over."

The Red Cross says the Algerian Red Crescent is on the scene struggling to pull victims from the remains of fallen buildings. France and Germany have also sent teams with tracking equipment and search dogs.

Local hospitals were overrun with the flood of victims from Wednesday’s quake. Many patients were receiving treatment outside. Algerian officials have urged doctors and paramedics to provide help and for citizens to donate blood.

Most of the deaths occurred in and around the cities of Roubia and Thenia - the quake's epicenter, located about 60-kilometers east of Algiers.

In the capital, several buildings collapsed and electricity was knocked out in some neighborhoods, causing panic among residents.

Deaths were also reported as far away as Tizi Ouzou - the main city in the Berber region - about 100-kilometers from Algiers.

Panicked residents throughout the stricken region spent the night outdoors, as aftershocks continued.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake-registered 6.7 on the Richter scale.

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