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Central American quake leaves hundreds dead, up to 1,200 missing
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (CNN) -- More than 200 people are dead in El Salvador, and as many as 1,200 are missing in Central America following a landslide created by a major earthquake that rocked the region on Saturday, said Mauricio Ferrer, the director of the national emergency commitee in El Salvador.
Santa Tecla, Santa Ana, Departamento de la Paz and Usulutan, were the hardest hit cities in El Salvador, Ferrer said.
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. Saturday. (Map of the region)
Neighborhood virtually buried
The small neighborhood of Santa 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 Santa 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 cathedral."
Some areas cut off
Israel Zuniga, the Red Cross regional director in Guatemala City 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.
Zuniga said there were eight confirmed fatalities in Guatemala.
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 efforts. In 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 g,000 francs.
Several other countries, including the United States, Spain and Taiwan, have already announced they are sending aid to the region.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Small earthquake, aftershock rumble region north of Los Angeles
U.S. Geological Survey Home Page
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