Central American quake leaves more than 100 dead, up to 1,200 missing
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (CNN) -- More than 100 people were dead and
as many as 1,200 were missing in a landslide created by a major earthquake in
Central America, an International Red Cross official said Sunday.
Israel Zuniga, the Red Cross regional director in Guatemala City, said
there were 108 fatalities
confirmed in El Salvador and four confirmed dead in Guatemala. Authorities say they expect the
death toll to rise significantly.
Seismologists pinpointed the magnitude 7.6 earthquake's epicenter about
110 kilometers (65
miles) south-southwest of San Miguel, El Salvador. It hit the region about 11:30 a.m.
Neighborhood virtually buried
The small neighborhood of San Tecla outside El Salvador was virtually buried
during the quake.
Nearly a day after the disaster hit, rescuers, many of them family members, worked to find anyone
who might have been buried alive.
"It happened so fast," said an unidentified rescuer. "We're bringing up
people here. They're bringing
up a friend from the house. She's alive, thank God."
El Salvador President Francisco Flores has declared a national emergency.
"The priority is in
the southern part of San Tecla and the area of Berlin which has been greatly affected," Flores
said. "We have heard there could be people still buried in this area due to the collapse of the
Some areas cut off
Zuniga said rescue workers had been unable to reach all of the areas affected
by the quake
because several highways were blocked because of the landslide.
He said the Guatemalan emergency management agency sent a helicopter early
Sunday over the
southwestern part of Guatemala and part of El Salvador to assess the damage.
The U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador, was making helicopters available
to help with
flyovers, he said.
Zuniga said a three-person team based in El Salvador was coordinating relief
addition, relief officials have a warehouse stocked with up to 10,000 items for families, including
plastic sheeting, water containers and blankets.
Switzerland has sent an initial contribution of emergency aid worth $100,000
to the disaster
victims, the Swiss Development Aid agency said on Sunday. The Swiss Red Cross said it would
provide an initial 100,000 Swiss francs ($61,650) for emergency aid to help its sister organization in
El Salvador, and the Caritas Schweiz aid group also pledged 100,000 francs.
Several other countries, including the United States, Spain and Taiwan,
announced they are sending aid to the region.
Reuters contributed to this report.