Colombia Quake Kills 1,000

Close-to-the surface earthquake devastates coffee-belt towns

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ARMENIA, Colombia: The twin tolls are, for now, 1,000 dead and 1,800 injured after Colombia's worst-ever earthquake ripped through the mountain town of Armenia and 10 others along the nation's coffee belt. The earthquake registered a 6.0 on the Richter scale, but that wasn't the problem. Earthquakes are common in Colombia, but most are centered so deep beneath the earth's crust that they do little damage. The center of this one, said Colombia's National Seismological Institute, was a shallow -- and thus devastating -- 20 miles below the surface. Reports of the far-ranging damage were in the language of war.

"It looks like a city that's been bombed," Risaralda State governor Carlos Arturo Lopez said after flying over Pereira, Risaralda's capital city of 550,000. "The center of Calarca doesn't exist," truck driver Jose Marcos told Radionet radio from the town, 90 miles west of Bogota. "Only the hospital was left standing." Sadly, demand for that hospital and others may have leveled off. After working through the night, rescuers now face the grislier sights of day as they pick through the rubble and count corpses. The earthquake struck Monday at 2:19 p.m. (ET), followed by aftershocks that finished the job; a day later, it is quiet. But the death toll can only go up.