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Death toll in Salvadoran quake now 173

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNN) -- Rescuers in El Salvador worked to free victims of the country's second earthquake in a month as the death toll from the temblor rose to 173.

Tuesday's 6.1 magnitude quake injured another 1,557 people and destroyed more than 2,200 homes, presidential spokesman Louis Lopenz Portillo said. Those numbers are expected to rise, he said.

The National Emergency Committee, a government agency, also reported landslides in the area. Lopenz Portillo said five villages on the outskirts of the San Vicente volcano have literally disappeared, and at least 40 villagers are known to be buried in two sites around the volcano.

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Rescue teams from Guatemala arrived in the country Tuesday, and teams from Spain were expected Wednesday, he said.

The quake was centered on an area about 24 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of San Salvador, hitting a month to the day after a larger earthquake killed more than 800 people. Authorities have reported as many as 500 aftershocks so far, and that the fault line where the quake originated is eight miles deep.

International Red Cross spokesman Iain Logan said "extensive damage" was reported in villages outside the capital.

"I'm afraid it's just an add-on to the anxiety that we've had in the last few weeks," he said.

Roney Guttierez, manager of the relief group CARE International, said the latest quake would bring renewed hardship to a country still struggling to recover from the earlier disaster. Guttierez said about 100,000 people had been left homeless from the January quake, and that number would likely rise because of Tuesday's temblor.

"It's going to be very difficult, obviously, because this hit areas that were not so severely damaged by the first earthquake, " Guttierez said. "So now the relief is going to have to be spread out even further than it was, in terms of area and number of people."

While the U.S. Geological Survey earlier had classified the tremor as an aftershock from the January 13 quake, seismologist Waverly Person said the quake's location now casts doubt on that report.

"We've got to do some more looking. It's considerably away from where the main shock was," Person said.



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RELATED SITES:
U.S. Geological Survey Home Page
  • Earthquake Information for the World
The Richter Scale
Central America Earthquake Map - Last 14 days
El Diario de Hoy de El Salvador (Spanish)
Concern USA

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