CAFOD pledges further funds for El Salvador

On the day the last person to be pulled alive from the Santa Tecla landslide in El Salvador was buried, aid agency CAFOD announced they will be spending 168,000 on re-building houses for earthquake victims. Twenty-year-old Sergio Moreno was seen as a symbol of hope when he was pulled from the rubble after being buried for more than 30 hours. He died two days ago, bringing the death toll to more than 1,000. The church of San Antonio de Pablo was packed for the funeral. Sergio's father, Juan Moreno, said he at least felt privileged to have seen his son alive, if even for a few short days. "Other people weren't able to know whether the body parts they found belonged to their loved ones or not," he said. "It consoled us a lot that we saw our son whole and we continued our faith in God because it offered us that opportunity." As the congregation sang its last farewells, the funeral marked not just an end but the start of El Salvador's healing and the beginning of its very long road to recovery. CAFOD partners are working round the clock to support traumatised survivors. The new funding will go towards building emergency shelters. The agency has also earmarked 68,000 to start a long-term housing project, which will be run by the Jesuit Development Service in El Salvador. CAFOD has been receiving updates all week from the stricken areas. Reports estimate that the damage is worse then that caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. They are concerned that people in less developed parts of El Salvador will be forgotten if the focus of the emergency relief remains on areas around the capital city. Clare Dixon, head of the Latin America section said: "This is the worst natural disaster to hit El Salvador. This country has already suffered tremendously in recent years through civil war and the effects of other earthquakes and Hurricane Mitch. "We saw on TV how emergency teams got to the landslide in Santa Tecla in double-quick time. But there are villages in parts of El Salvador which are not so accessible, where every single house has collapsed. We strongly urge the Salvadorean government to work hard for all those in need, especially those who might be overlooked once the initial interest has subsided." Tremors, which have continued all week, reached 7.9 on the Richter scale, and many rural areas have been completely destroyed. Houses that have remained standing elsewhere are too unsafe to be used. One report from the village of Santa Elena in South East El Salvador read: "The buildings that are being registered as damaged may as well be registered as destroyed as it will be impossible to live in them due to the risk of collapse. All 2,556 houses in Santa Elena are registered as either damaged or destroyed. 19,000 people lived in them." Fr Tim McConville, a Scottish priest from the parish of Cristo Rey in Soyapango near El Salvador will be using CAFOD funds to build 240 wooden and zinc champas - emergency shelters - that can be used later for permanent housing. Fr Tim said: I hope that by giving a wooden frame with a corrugated iron roof families will have an adequate shelter for a few months. Then these materials can be incorporated into the new house. Waste not want not."

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