Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Costa Rica searches for 21 missing after quake

San Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - The death toll from Costa Rica's magnitude-6.1 earthquake rose to 19 dead, with 21 missing, officials said Monday.

The quake rocked the Central American nation on Thursday, unleashing massive landslides and destroying homes in a mountainous, remote region popular with tourists and farmers. Fifteen of the victims have been identified.

The death toll rose by one Monday as rescue officials suspended from a helicopter dug out the body of a man who was buried in his car on a steep incline.

Rescue efforts have been slow, and more than 100 people had been listed as missing over the weekend.

But judicial police said in a statement that authorities had located most of the missing in shelters. There were 21 people still unaccounted for. Most of the victims appeared to be Costa Rican or Nicaraguan.

President Oscar Arias declared five days of national mourning and issued a national emergency, making it easier for quake victims to receive aid.

His government also asked Congress to request a $65 million loan from the World Bank and a $850 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.

Preliminary figures estimate nearly $100 million in damages.

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