Second quake collapses El Salvador homes

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | February 13, 2001

A new fatal earthquake struck El Salvador Tuesday morning exactly one month after a devastating quake caused widespread death and damage.

Tuesday's 6.1-magnitude quake, which was centered about 15 miles southeast of the capital San Salvador, killed at least 70 people and collapsed hundreds of homes. January's quake caused more damage on the outskirts of San Salvador, killing 844 people and destroying nearly 93,000 homes.

After the Tuesday morning quake, many destroyed homes were found in the towns of San Cayetano Istepeque and Comasagua, where people were buried alive. In the town of San Martin, a collapsing grain tower killed two people and some 75 homes were damaged. According to reports from Action by Churches Together (ACT), an alliance of church-based relief agencies. Some students were trapped in the rubble of a school in San Vicente.

Landslides, some blocking major highways, have been reported on the San Vicente volcano. Residents of San Salvador fled in panic as the earthquake hit.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) office in El Salvador reported that the quake's epicenter was in the region of Los Blancos.

While checking for damages, the government canceled school and closed all public buildings, including hospitals. Telephone service was patchy

throughout the country.

Residents in Guatemala and Honduras also reported feeling tremors.

There were no reports of additional damage in Santa Tecla, the city were hundreds of people were buried by a landslide during the

7.6-magnitude quake Jan. 13. In the wake of that strong temblor, hundreds remain missing and thousands are still homeless. Nearly 93,000

homes were destroyed and 130,515 were damaged. More than 3,000 aftershocks have struck since then.

ACT and its partner members have been responding to quake survivors' needs, often focusing on rural villagers who have received little

attention from the government. Deliveries of food supplies - corn, beans, rice, cooking oil - are ongoing.

ACT members in El Salvador include the LWF's Department for World Service, Salvadoran Lutheran Synod, Emmanuel Baptist Church,

Episcopal Church of El Salvador, Reformed Church, Salvadoran Ecological Organization, and Foundation for Studies on the Application of


Several ACT members from outside the region, including Norwegian Church Aid, Danchurchaid, and Diakonisches Werk, sent specialized staff

to assist with relief.

Church World Service (CWS), in addition to working with ACT and its partners, also provided a $30,000 airfreight shipment of 4,000 blankets

to LWF. CWS also issued an appeal for $500,000 to support wider ACT efforts.

The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) committed $400,000 and a shipment of material resources for relief and housing reconstruction.

MCC plans to rebuild 300 homes over the next two years.

In the month since the first earthquake, more than 42,000 families -- or some 200,000 people -- have received assistance from ACT members.

ACT is planning a long-term reconstruction effort that will focus on the country's poorest and most affected communities. ACT issued an

appeal for $3.9 million to support its activities. So far $1.1 million has been raised.

Many residents are concerned that temporary shelters erected to replace their collapsed homes won't withstand seasonal rains that will begin in


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