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Wednesday, January 27, 1999 Published at 11:55 GMT

World: Americas

Destruction of a proud city

Survivors carry a coffin to the morgue

By South America Correspondent James Reynolds

Late into the evening in Armenia, a hail storm falls on what is left of the city.

James Reynolds: "Temporary accommodation for thousands"
Rubble from collapsed buildings lies on the road. Teenage soldiers stand at street corners to enforce the recently imposed curfew.

Some of those whose houses are destroyed have gathered around small fires.

The city is quiet. Just two days ago Armenia was the proud centre of Colombia's coffee growing industry.

Juan Ries lost his sister and niece
Survivor Juan Ries's story is typical: "My sister's house collapsed. She was killed and my niece was killed. I've lost my house as well."

Outside the Red Cross headquarters in the city, hundreds of people made homeless by the earthquake have formed an orderly queue.

[ image:  ]
They are waiting to sign documents to prove their identity. Once they have done this, they will each be given a meal and somewhere to sleep.

When this week began many of these people had jobs, homes and families. Now many have little or nothing left.

There are tears in the eyes of many as they wait in line. Some barely speak, but few show any anger over what's happened.

Supplies arriving

A few streets away at a small warehouse, members of Armenia's Civil Defence team unpack food parcels flown in by the government.

Since the earthquake, these people, along with so many others in Armenia, have not stopped in their efforts to find the dead and help the living.

Spokeswoman Clara Rodriguez said: "We've found about 468 bodies so far. There's still a lot of searching left to do.

Clara Rodriguez: "We've asked for help"
"We've asked for help, for food and water to be sent in because there's just not enough here."

Contact with the outside world is slowly resuming.

Relatives of those in Armenia have begun to fly in to find out who has survived and who has been killed.

But with many bodies still left under the rubble, the answer to that question will not be known for sometime.

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