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Earthquake in Colombia: Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appeals for 11.7 million Swiss francs

28-01-1999 News Release 99/06

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement today launched a preliminary appeal for 11.7 million Swiss francs to bring assistance to 100,000 people especially hard hit by Monday's earthquake in western Colombia.

The funds are urgently needed by the Colombian Red Cross to provide a range of services and items such as:

- shelter materials, including tents and plastic sheeting;

- first aid supplies, blood transfusion units and water purification tablets;

- clothing;

- food and kitchen utensils for 100,000 people;

- generators and lanterns.

All the items can be purchased locally and donations are requested in cash. A full appeal will be prepared over the coming week, following a detailed assessment of needs. This will also provide for longer term assistance, including reconstruction and rehabilitation.

The earthquake, which struck on 25 January at 1.19 p.m. local time, is one of the most devastating to have hit Colombia this century. It has already left hundreds dead and thousands injured, and the casualty figures continue to rise.

Within hours of the disaster, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released 300,000 Swiss francs from its disaster relief emergency fund and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), through its delegation in Colombia, donated the same amount to the relief effort and also offered logistical support.

The Colombian Red Cross has been at the forefront of the rescue and relief effort from the very start. At present over 500 Red Cro ss volunteers and staff are working side by side with the local authorities, the Colombian army, civil defence personnel and the police in an attempt to rescue people from the rubble, give them first aid and evacuate the injured.