Annan saddened by heavy loss of life from powerful earthquake in Algeria

22 May 2003

United Nations Secretary-General said today he was "deeply saddened" by the heavy loss of life, injuries and destruction caused by a powerful earthquake Wednesday in Algeria, and pledged UN assistance to the victims.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has already provided an emergency cash grant of $50,000. In addition, a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has been deployed to support the Government in the coordination of the international response, and to assist in assessing priority needs.

"To mobilize and coordinate international relief efforts, the United Nations has been in touch with several governments, who have put Search and Rescue (SAR) teams and relief supplies on stand-by," a UN spokesman said.

According to OCHA, unconfirmed reports indicate that the death toll has risen to 640 dead and 4,670 injured. Meanwhile, Algiers International Airport, located close to the earthquake's epicentre, remained closed.

The Secretary-General also extended his condolences to the families of the deceased, and to the Government of Algeria.


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