20th anniversary of killer quake and its legacy in the Salvadoran presidency
Today is the twentieth anniversary of the first of two devastating earthquakes which hit El Salvador in 2001. That quake registered 7.6 on the Richter scale. Exactly one month later, on February 13, another earthquake would cause more damage. Between those two, the damage was enormous:
- 1,259 deaths, 9,000 injuries and 1.6 million homeless victims in a country with a population of approximately six million.
- 150,000 homes were destroyed; 185,000 were damaged.
- Highways and roads were heavily damaged ).
- Eight hospitals and 113 of 361 health facilities were severely damaged representing 55 percent of the country’s capacity to deliver health services.
- Nearly 35 percent of all schools were affected (1,681 out of 4,820).
|Las Colinas following quake|
Working to rescue the survivors of the quake were the dedicated volunteers of Comandos de Salvamento. You can read the reflections of some of those volunteers from the tenth anniversary here. There is also a photo gallery of some images from that earthquake here.
Beyond the immediate cost in human lives and destroyed homes, the earthquakes would have important impacts on El Salvador going forward. El Salvador's president at the time, Francisco Flores, misappropriated a $10 million donation for earthquake relief from the country of Taiwan. Much of that money ended up in the coffers of the ARENA political party. Flores was put in jail and charged with the crime more than a decade later and died before going to trial.