Death Toll Could Reach 4,000, Aide Warns

Caritas-El Salvador Still Assessing Quake Damage

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MADRID, Spain, JAN. 19, 2001 (
The death toll from last weekend´s earthquake in El Salvador could reach 4,000,
far above the 800 counted already, the director of Caritas-El Salvador warned.

Gilberto Gallegos said today that the situation continues to be critical in the
Central American country, and that the real magnitude of the tragedy is still unknown.

«There are rural communities of which there is no news, whose leaders are arriving
in the larger municipalities to ask for help, because they have received none,»
he told Caritas-Spain´s information service.

Gallegos estimates that, «conservatively,» that 4,000 died as a result of the quake,
250,000 people were affected, and another 47,000 were displaced.
A more complete assessment of the catastrophe is expected Saturday.

Both Caritas and the Church in El Salvador have mobilized all their
collaborators to assist the victims of the tragedy.
Emergency teams have also been sent to affected areas of the country,
such as Chalatenango, and to those most damaged, like Sonsonate and Usulutan.

José Sánchez Faba, president of Caritas-Spain, appealed to the Spanish government
Thursday over COPE radio network to cancel the foreign debt that
El Salvador has incurred with Spain. Caritas-Spain said that the Central American country
is suffering from $4 billion in foreign debt.

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