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Friday, May 22, 1998 Published at 23:45 GMT 00:45 UK

World: Americas

Bolivia quake toll rises
image: [ An earthquake victim is rushed away to hospital ]
An earthquake victim is rushed away to hospital

A series of earthquakes in central Bolivia has destroyed hundreds of houses in remote mountain towns, and left at least 48 people dead.

More than 100 others are missing. Many are believed to be buried beneath the rubble of their homes.

[ image: The earthquake hit the area of Cochabamba hardes]
The earthquake hit the area of Cochabamba hardes
Scientists say one of the shocks, which measured 6.6 on the Richter scale, was one of the strongest in Bolivia this century.

While the quakes were felt throughout central Bolivia, worst hit were Aiquile, the most prosperous town in the province, and Totora, a rural town a few miles to the north. Officials say most of the homes in the two towns were destroyed.

Landslides blocked and damaged roads leading to the worst-hit areas and were preventing emergency teams from getting through.

Rescue workers were being parachuted in to try to help the injured. Local army units were also mobilised for the rescue effort.

In 1994, Bolivia had one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history, felt as far away as Canada, but its epicentre was so deep it caused little damage.

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