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Venezuela Pledges $10 Million In Aid as Death Toll Climbs To 86

April 26, 1991

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ Venezuela pledged $10 million in credit to help Costa Rica recover from a devastating Central American earthquake, as the death toll from the temblor rose to 86.

A child and two infants died Thursday in the hospital in Puerto Limon, the Costa Rican city hardest hit by the quake, Red Cross spokesman Ulises Quesada said in an interview.

The deaths brought the quake toll in Costa Rica to 57. Twenty-nine died in neighboring Panama from the temblor Monday that registered 7.4 on the Richter scale. Hundreds of people were injured and thousands left homeless.

Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez offered Costa Rican President Rafael Calderon the aid Thursday in Costa Rica where they signed a bilateral free trade agreement.

Venezuela also delivered 30,000 tons of food, medicine and clothing to Costa Rica for quake victims.

The United States made available four helicopters and a UH-60 Black Hawk airplane for evacuation and the transfer of wounded to hospitals.

A planeload of food, blankets and mattresses arrived from Mexico. Nicaragua has sent six helicopters to distribute food and medicine, the Red Cross said.

Quesada said a 5-year-old died Thursday of injuries sustained in the temblor, and a pair of identical twins born prematurely as a result of maternal distress caused by the quake also died.

A Red Cross statement said the death toll could continue rising as rescue parties reach remote areas affected by the tremor.

The organization has estimated that about 150 villages between Puerto Limon and Sixaola, 75 miles southeast at the border with Panama, were isolated by the quake.

The quake’s epicenter was located near Puerto Limon, a city of 150,000 and Costa Rica’s main port.

Puetro Limon authorities reported the arrests of at least nine people for looting as the need for relief aid mounted.

The government, worried about road conditions, is considering hauling its important banana and coffee crops through Nicaragua to Puerto Cortes in Honduras for shipping, Foreign Trade Minister Roberto Rojas said.

Rojas said that 750,000 crates of bananas destined for export had been held up by the quake’s aftermath, and he estimated that losses from ruined bananas would total $5 million. Coffee and bananas together earn Costa Rica about $500 million a year.

Calderon said road repairs will cost at least $170 million. The World Bank has promised an $80 million loan for highway and bridge reconstruction.

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