- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

COLIMA, Mexico, Jan. 23 (UPI) — The death toll from a major earthquake that jarred western Mexico this week climbed to 29 Thursday as rescue crews continued to dig through collapsed buildings in Colima.

Rescue crews also scoured the surrounding countryside for any additional victims in rural areas cut off from the outside world since the Tuesday night quake that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale.

An estimated 10,000 people were left homeless in region, with the most damage occurring in neighborhoods of adobe homes in Colima, the capital of the agricultural state of the same name.

"This was an earthquake of great magnitude," said Mexican President Vicente Fox as he toured the city on Wednesday. "Luckily, the consequences were not as grave as they could have been."

Fox announced a $2 billion fund had been established to help repair the city, and the American Red Cross was also collecting money in Los Angeles for relief efforts.

Urban search crews in California were on standby to fly to Mexico to assist with the rescue efforts, however emergency officials in Colima were saying Thursday they did not believe there were many more victims buried in the debris.

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