International Federation steps up efforts to meet needs of survivors

Published: 16 January 2001

Red Cross rescue teams are continuing their search for victims after Saturday's massive earthquake in El Salvador.

Red Cross rescue teams are concentrating efforts now on the town of Comasagua, 28 kms east of San Salvador which has been cut off since the earthquake. The town of 18,000 people has been affected by landslides and an unspecified number of houses have been destroyed there.

The latest death toll is 594, with more than 1,200 missing and almost 1,900 injured. About 18,000 people have been evacuated and more than 25,000 houses are reported to be damaged or destroyed.

The response to the appeal by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has now reached two million Swiss francs. A delegation of 33 international staff has been put in place to support the Salvadorean Red Cross which has 1,000 staff and volunteers implementing the operation.

Red Cross workers have already distributed emergency relief items - including blankets, kitchen sets, hygiene items and plastic sheeting - to more than 4,500 families in 30 communities. Relief work is being stepped up. Salvadorean Red Cross is co-ordinating its efforts with the National Emergency Committee and is providing support to 46 government shelters.

Large field tents have been provided to damaged hospitals so that the high numbers of earthquake injured can be sheltered. Across the country, six Red Cross teams are currently carrying out an in-depth needs assessment which will result in a more detailed appeal on behalf of the survivors.

"More than 1,000 Red Cross volunteers went into action within minutes of Saturday's earthquake and have been working around the clock since. The Salvadorean Red Cross ambulance service and blood bank have also been working non stop. Although fatigue is setting in for the volunteers, efforts continue tirelessly " says Santiago Gil, Director of the International Federation's Americas Department.

Numerous Red Cross Societies have sent delegates to support the SRC relief operation. Red Cross Societies from Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Germany, France, the United States, Canada, Japan, Spain and Switzerland have all responded. For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

Denis McClean, Head of Media Service, Geneva
Tel.: +41 22 730 4428
Mobile : +41 79 217 3357

Christopher Black, Media Service, Geneva
Tel.: +41 79 416 3881 s here