American Gather Aid For Earthquake-Stricken El Salvador With PM-Salvador-Quake Bjt
Undated (AP) _ Thousands of dollars in donations and tons of medical supplies poured in and volunteers arranged airlifts as Americans pledged help to victims of the El Salvador earthquake that killed hundreds of people and left thousands homeless.
″The situation there is critical,″ Jon Floyd, director of emergency services for Medical Aid For El Salvador, said Sunday in Los Angeles. ″There are so many people injured, particularly children.″
The El Salvador consulate and various relief groups in the Los Angeles area have collected about $33,000, the Los Angeles Times reported today, and Roman Catholic Archbishop Roger Mahoney sent a check for $100,000.
Floyd said his group has collected pledges from celebrities such as Richard Dreyfuss and Bianca Jagger, and was trying to send 15 medical personnel and 11,000 pounds of supplies to the El Salvador tonight or Tuesday.
In Florida, a five-man team from the Metro-Dade Fire Department’s disaster response unit traveled to San Salvador to provide assistance and see if more is needed.
″They are doing what they can now, but we have the ability to supply more people and equipment to continue the rescue mission,″ said spokesman Todd Griffin, adding the team has equipment, such as the ″jaws of life,″ to pull victims buried beneath rubble.
The team of medical, disaster and tactical specialists was assembled at the request of the U.S. State Department to assist and train rescue teams in Central and South America. Griffin said Metro-Dade is the only American fire department providing assistance to the El Salvador disaster.
The department sent two rescue teams to Mexico City’s earthquake last year.
Meanwhile, Miami’s Hispanic community has organized a campaign to send food, clothing and medical aid to the earthquake site. Spanish-language radio station WQBA raised over $25,000 Saturday, and the Foundation.
In Texas, Spanish-language radio station KESS-FM had raised more than $6,000 by late Saturday. In Houston, where the Salvadoran community numbers about 80,000, radio stations also were helping ccoordinate the relief effort.
Nohemy Rios, a spokeswoman for El Salvador’s consular office in Houston, said one Cuban businessman had donated $50,000 worth of medicine.
″We’ve had a great response,″ said Rios. ″We’re asking for things the Red Cross wants, like oxygen, anesthesia and antibiotics. Right now, blood and plasma are one of the major things.″
In Los Angeles, Mahoney’s check for $100,000 was sent Sunday to Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas of the badly damaged city of San Salvador, said the Rev. Joseph Battaglia, spokesman for the Los Angeles archdiocese.
The archbishop noted that Los Angeles has more Salvadorans than any city outside El Salvador - about 360,000, according to the Los Angeles consulate.
World Vision of Monrovia was ready to fly enough blankets, food, tents and medical supplies for 1,000 people into El Salvador today, but was awaiting word about what was needed, spokesman Ed Waters said Sunday night.
Another airlift was being organized by Operation California, a 7-year-old privately funded relief group working with Medical Aid for El Salvador.
″Salvador has been asking for supplies and surgeons to come in as soon as possible,″ said Neil Frame, director of procurement for Operation California.
The American Red Cross urged donations of money rather than goods ″to help rebuild the economy″ in San Salvador, said spokeswoman Peggy McGinley. ″If we send blankets and food, we are not using the local merchants.″