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Heavy Rains Lash Algeria; 298 Killed

November 11, 2001|From Times Wire Services

ALGIERS — Violent winds and heavy rain lashed northern Algeria, collapsing buildings, flooding roads and killing at least 298 people, authorities said Saturday.

At least 294 people were injured and eight others missing, the official Algerian Press Service said.

Many of the victims were crushed under the rubble of their homes. Others drowned, died in road accidents or were hit by falling trees, residents and rescue workers said.

Torrential rains began drenching the north African nation Friday, causing muddy waters to rush through streets in Algiers, the capital. Several buildings in one of the city's poorer sections crumbled to the ground.

Throughout Algiers, residents waded in waist-deep water trying to reach safety, and traffic came to a standstill as roads became impassable because of high waters, felled trees and debris. At least four people were killed in vehicle crashes.

Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni visited the most stricken neighborhoods and urged residents to stay home today to keep roads open for emergency and rescue vehicles.

Zerhouni said that the Cabinet would hold a crisis meeting today to assess the disaster and consider a plan to provide aid to at least 5,500 homeless families. He also called for international aid.

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