From: Reuters
Published May 25, 2008 05:49 PM

Colombia quake victims huddle in shelters, 11 dead

By Carlos Duran

QUETAME, Colombia (Reuters) - Hundreds of Colombians huddled in makeshift shelters on Sunday afraid to go home a day after a 5.6-magnitude earthquake damaged scores of homes and triggered landslides killing at least 11 people.

In the rural town of Quetame, the most seriously hit, families spent the night sheltered on the town's football field or in a public building after the quake knocked out water supplies and damaged or collapsed houses and its church.

"People are still really terrified about a second or third one coming," Benedicto Enciso said as he sheltered with his companion and two children after their home was damaged. "We're trying to put up a tent for 20 people."

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Colombia's Red Cross said at least 11 people died and 54 were injured, with about 5,000 affected by damaged houses and buildings,

President Alvaro Uribe visited the affected area, where landslides blocked a major highway from Bogota to Villavicencio near the epicenter, which was 33 miles southeast of the capital, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Colombia's disaster-prevention office said on Sunday in Quetame alone around 3,300 people were affected and either moved to safer housing or shelters while authorities checked homes for damage. Other towns suffered less damage.

Panicked residents in Bogota fled into the streets when the quake rattled buildings, and one Bogota government office was evacuated after a shower of bricks tumbled off one wall.

Colombia's coffee-growing region was hit in 1999 by a 6.2-magnitude quake that killed at least 1,230 people and left more than 250,000 homeless in the country's worst natural disaster in the last decade.

(Reporting by Carlos Duran in Quetame, writing by Patrick Markey in Bogota, editing by Philip Barbara)

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