Rubble searched for Venezuela quake survivors
Magnitude 6.9 jolt hits Caribbean coast, killing dozens
July 10, 1997
Web posted at: 12:26 p.m. EDT (1626 GMT)
NORTHEASTERN VENEZUELA (CNN) -- Rescue teams here tried on
Thursday to reach survivors trapped beneath buildings
collapsed by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that hit the
Caribbean coast and killed at least 47 people, many of them
About 30 people remained trapped early Thursday in a
demolished office tower in downtown Cumana, the capital of
Sucre state, officials said.
To the east, another 20 to 30 students, teachers and others
were buried in the debris of a school in Cariaco.
At least seven children were rescued from the school ruins
alive. Jhonny Delgado, a fourth grade student, said he
escaped through a hole in the rubble after sitting out a
tremor that lasted about 10 seconds.
Hundreds of people were injured or made homeless by the
quake, which struck at 3:25 p.m. Wednesday and sent thousands
fleeing from homes, restaurants and office buildings in an
area stretching from Caracas to the Caribbean island nation
of Trinidad and Tobago.
Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, is about 300 miles (478 km)
west of the quake zone.
Girl survives, her sister doesn't
Rosmira Bastida, 14, was visiting her dentist in the office
tower in downtown Cumana when the earthquake struck.
"We felt the tremor ... and I started to run for the door.
Then the walls and roof started to fall and the entire
building collapsed," she said.
She spent 2 1/2 hours trapped beneath rubble, praying and
shouting for help. "It was the only thing we could do," she
said in a telephone interview.
Rescue workers finally reached her, but her 17-year-old
sister Lisbet, who was in the dentist's waiting room, was
killed by falling debris, she said.
The earthquake was Venezuela's worst since a magnitude 6.7
jolt struck Caracas in July 1967, leaving 300 dead and 2,000
The epicenter of Wednesday's quake was about 30 miles (49 km)
off Venezuela's northeastern Caribbean coast and there were
five aftershocks, the last at 5:40 p.m. EDT (2140 GMT),
Despite the size of the quake, state-owned oil company
Petroleos de Venezuela said both production and export
continued to flow smoothly. Venezuela is the largest
exporter of crude oil to the United States.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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