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Cincinnati, Ohio -- January 29, 1999

27 JANUARY 1999

Preliminary figures indicate 700 dead and 2,300 injured


1. The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Colombia has informed OCHA that, according to preliminary consolidated figures from various sources, approximately 700 persons have died and 2,300 were injured. These figures may increase as the rescue operations continue. Confirmation of numbers is further complicated by an interruption in communications, making it extremely difficult to verify damage and the number of dead and wounded.   The curfew continues in most of the affected areas.

2. Approximately 4,500 houses and 170 public buildings were destroyed.. There are no exact figures as to damage to the electric, water and gas supply systems, and there is as yet no evaluation of the damage caused to the road infrastructure. Problems with telecommunications exist in most parts of the disaster zone.

3. Through various channels, the Government of Colombia, has requested the assistance of the international community.

4. The Spokesperson for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, issued a statement on 26 September 1999, in which Mr. Kofi Annan expressed deep sympathy with the Government and people of Colombia, after the devastation caused by the earthquake. This message was widely circulated in the country.

National response

5. The President of Colombia has created a "Crisis Room" (Sala de Crisis), which will coordinate the cooperation and synchronize interventions.

6. The response to this disaster by the Colombian emergency system and population is excellent. Items such as clothing, blankets, cleaning materials, non perishable foodstuffs and medicine have been donated. The Government has coordinated the transfer of these items to the disaster areas.

7. The Government, in coordination with local emergency committees, is evaluating the condition of buildings, public services and road infrastructure. This will allow them to identify the rehabilitation/reconstruction needs and the resources required (internal and external).

8. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Colombian Red Cross is strongly represented in the disaster area. At present, more than 500 volunteers and staff are working with local authorities and the army in the relief operations.

Preliminary unmet requirements

9. Preliminary assessments show the need for the following emergency supplies (that can be bought locally): tents, blankets, drinking water and generators.

10. According to the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization, there is sufficient national capacity in personnel and medical supplies. However, financial resources (cash) are needed for the local purchasing of these supplies. Donors wishing to contribute should addressthemselves to PAHO/Washington: phone +1 202 974 35 20, fax +1 202 775 45 78.

International response - Contributions' report attached

In-country coordination activities

11. The United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) in Colombia has been activated by the United Nations Resident Coordinator, and includes representatives from UNDP, FAO, PAHO/WHO, UNICEF and WFP. It meets regularly as needed. The Disaster Management Team is working closely with the national authorities, in particular with the "Crisis Room", established by the President of Colombia.

12. OCHA is coordinating closely with the UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Disaster Management Team in Colombia.


13. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions for the immediate relief needs detailed above. Funds channelled through OCHA will be spent in coordination with the relevant organizations of the UN system and OCHA will provide written confirmation of their use. Funds should be transferred to OCHA account No. CO-590.160.1 at the UBS AG, PO Box 2770, CH- 1211 Geneva 2, with reference: OCHA - Colombia - Earthquake

14.  For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated blow, of relief missions, pledges or contributions and their corresponding values by item.

15. This Situation Report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet Website at:http://

Telephone number: + 41-22-917-1234
In case of emergency only: + 41 22 917 2010
Desk Officers: Mr. Erik Haegglund, direct tel: + 41-22-917-3299
and Mr. Carlos Monteiro-Pereira, direct tel: +41-22-917-1383
Contact person for the media: Ms. Elena Ponomareva, direct
Telex 41 42 42 ocha ch
Fax: + 41 22 917 0023
E-mail: [email protected]