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Quake rescuers race against time

The quake levelled thousands of buildings, trapping unknown numbers in the rubble.
The quake levelled thousands of buildings, trapping unknown numbers in the rubble.

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Algerian earthquake victims face primitive conditions and rescuers are short on supplies. CNN's Mike Yardley reports
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MAGNITUDE GUIDE
Below is an interactive guide to earthquake magnitude and severity:

ALGIERS, Algeria (CNN) -- Rescue workers in Algeria are racing against time searching the rubble of collapsed homes and apartment blocks in the hope of finding survivors from Wednesday's devastating earthquake.

Algerian officials say more than 1,000 people are confirmed to have died and some 7,000 people have been injured in the largest earthquake to hit northern Africa in two decades.

The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers many working with little more than their bare hands -- pull more bodies from the rubble.

Aid officials say Algeria's medical system is struggling to cope with supplies, equipment, blood and manpower all running short.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says it has released $154,000 from its disaster relief emergency fund to provide immediate help in Algeria.

The hardest hit areas are east of the capital, Algiers, where thousands of buildings were leveled by the quake.

In the capital itself officials say at least 400 people were killed.

Trucks were called into service as makeshift ambulances to transport the injured and the bodies of the dead from devastated Algiers neighborhoods and surrounding towns and villages.

In some areas medical workers have been forced to treat patients in the streets because hospitals did not have enough beds to accommodate all of the injured.

Hospital officials have put out appeals for blood donations, doctors and paramedics.

The magnitude 6.7 quake struck Wednesday at 7:44 p.m. (1944 GMT) when most Algerians were in their homes.

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake is classified as "strong," capable of causing a lot of damage, especially in areas of poor construction.

The quake's epicenter was about 75 kilometers (45 miles) east of Algiers.

Because of its location on the boundary between two of the Earth's tectonic plates, the Eurasian and the African, Algeria experiences many destructive quakes.

In October 1980, a 7.1 earthquake struck the city of El Asnam (known today as Ech-Cheliff) and killed at least 5,000 people. That city is about 220 kilometers (136 miles) from Wednesday's quake.


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