INTRODUCTION: When the Algerian town of El-Asnam was virtually destroyed by an earthquake in October last year, the government's first priority was to re-house more than 300,000 homeless victims.
AERIAL VIEW El-Asnam city
GV PAN & LV earthquake devastated buildings (3 shots)
LV & CU Monument and inscription (2 shots)
SV PAN President Chadli walks forward and lays wreath on monument
SV & CU Crowd watches as President stands to attention (2 shots)
GV Building site with houses under construction
SV & CU Builders and building materials (2 shots)
LV & SV Houses under construction (3 shots)
GV PAN & SV Completed houses and roads (2 shots)
SV & CU Street lighting and telephones (2 shots)
LV Completed houses (2 shots)
LV EXTERIOR Kitchen
AERIAL V Completed new village
SV Crowds cheer as President Chadli cuts ribbon opening new village (2 shots)
SV PAN & GV Crowds surround President as he walks through new village (2 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: When the Algerian town of El-Asnam was virtually destroyed by an earthquake in October last year, the government's first priority was to re-house more than 300,000 homeless victims.
SYNOPSIS: Many of the homeless spent the winter in tents and cardboard shanties on the outskirts of El-Asnam. Most of the buildings in the city were so badly damaged they were uninhabitable, and fears of further quakes prevented survivors from occupying the few buildings left standing.
Many thousands perished in the October earthquake -- the second such disaster to hit El-Asnam in 27 years. Last week (26 May) Algerian President Benjedid Chadli laid a wreath on this monument to the city's dead. The final toll was put at over 4,000. And President Chadli praised the earthquake survivors, saying they had shown patience and courage in the face of extreme hardship.
After last year's quake the Algerian government embarked on a 2,000 million dollar (U.S.) rebuilding programme, financed from Algerian oil revenue and by foreign donors. Thousands of prefabricated houses have already been erected and funds have been set aside for compensation, roads and equipment.
Algeria lies on the edge of a continental shelf that is gradually pushing northwards towards Europe. In 1954 El Asnam was hit by an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, and French seismologists predicted that further major tremors were unlikely. But last October's earthquake measured between 7.3 and 7.5 on the Richter scale, releasing several times the energy of the 1954 disaster.
Three out of four homes in El-Asnam were destroyed and several nearby towns completely flattened. Now the city has been re-named Cheliff, after a nearby river. During his visit President Chadli inaugurated several villages of prefabricated dwellings. The units have an expected life of 20 years and are intended to ease the pressing housing problem while traditional buildings are erected.
The government plans eventually to build more than 20,000 permanent rural buildings, but in the meantime almost half the 47,000 prefabricated shelters immediately needed to house the local population have been completed.