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1999: Colombia quake leaves hundreds dead
At least 300 people have been killed and 1,000 have been injured in an earthquake in Colombia, South America.

It is the most powerful quake to hit Colombia for 16 years, measuring six on the Richter scale. Aftershocks were felt as far afield as the capital, Bogota.

The quake struck the heart of the country's coffee-growing region, about the capital, Bogota, toppling tower blocks, hotels and historic churches.

Trapped in rubble

Scores of people were trapped in the rubble, or caught in landslides triggered by the earthquake. Thousands have been left homeless.

The regional capitals of Armenia and Pereira were the worst hit. In Armenia, about 10 miles (17km) south of the epicentre, even single-storey homes were destroyed by the quake.

Phone and power lines have also been brought down. The Colombian authorities have imposed a dawn-till-dusk curfew to allow the rescuers to work unhampered.

The Colombian president, Andres Pastrana, postponed a trip to attend a World Bank meeting in Germany and flew instead to Pereira to see the devastation for himself.

Geo-seismic engineer Zygmunt Lubkowski said: "If we ensure building and bridges are constructed properly, we can prevent the sort of loss of life which has been observed in Colombia."

Most of the buildings which collapsed, including many churches, were built before 1984 when a new, tougher, building standards were introduced.

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Looting became a problem after the quake



In Context
The final death toll was about 1,000, with 4,000 injured. There were 200,000 people left homeless.

Many of the buildings which collapsed were old and poorly constructed, or had been built on poor soil such as old landfill sites or steep slopes.

Most of the newer buildings, built since the new standards were introduced in 1984, survived intact.

There were widespread reports of looting in the city of Armenia after the earthquake. Residents angered at the slow pace of the relief effort, began breaking into food stores and stealing supplies.

The president had to send in troops to restore order.

Stories From 25 Jan


 
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