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Swiss relief agencies rush aid to Central America after earthquake

Rescue workers search for survivors in a suburb of San Salvador

(Keystone)

Swiss relief agencies sent emergency aid to El Salvador on Sunday, following the devastating earthquake which has killed hundreds of people. The Swiss Red Cross told swissinfo at least 300 people had died in a suburb of the capital, San Salvador.

A Swiss Red Cross official, Karl Schuler, said a suburb of the capital was one of the worst affected areas, after being hit by a landslide.

Schuler added that Pacific coast and mountain regions were also badly affected, and several areas had still not been reached.

Swiss aid groups, including the Red Cross, have been sending money and aid to the stricken regions.

The Swiss Development Aid agency has sent a first contribution of $100,000 (SFr160,000) for emergency operations. The funds are being spent on food, drinking water and medicine.

An agency spokesman in Bern, Joachim Ahrens, said the organisation had been one of the first to react to the disaster, and that this was possible because of the good network which it had in the region.

Officials from the agency's offices in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras have been assessing the situation, he said.

The Swiss Red Cross and Caritas have announced they are sending SFr100,000 to help victims of the disaster.

Ahrens added that, for the time being, there were no plans to send members of the Swiss Disaster Relief corps. The corps, which has specially-trained dogs, has often been used to help search for survivors in earthquake-stricken areas.

The earthquake, measuring nearly eight on the Richter scale, was also felt in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico.

But Schuler said initial reports indicated the other countries were not as badly affected as El Salvador.

Among the other countries which have already pledged aid to the stricken region are the United States, Spain and Taiwan.

swissinfo with agencies


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