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Quake in Algeria Leaves 15,000 Homeless; Nations Promise Aid

<i> From Reuters</i>

About 15,000 people have been made homeless by an earthquake in northwestern Algeria, with the death toll up to at least 171, the government said Saturday.

Two days after the first shocks hit, rescuers were still searching the rubble for survivors.

A statement by the Algerian Interior Ministry quoted by Algiers Radio put the number of injured at 289, of which 176 were still hospitalized.

Nearly 500 homes were devastated by the quake, which hit the Mascara district Thursday and measured 5.6. A series of aftershocks rocked the area the same day and Friday.

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President Lamine Zeroual went on national radio and television Friday night to assure residents of the district that his government would not spare any effort to ease their pain.

Saudi Arabia, joining in international relief assistance for victims, was due to airlift food, medical supplies and other emergency aid to Algeria on Saturday.

France, the former colonial ruler of Algeria, sent 15 tons of blankets, tents and medical aid to Mascara on Friday to help the victims.

Italy said it was donating $375,000 in aid through the United Nations. Kuwait was to send food, medical supplies and other help, and Algiers Radio said the European Union has pledged aid.

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