ALGERIA: The Tragedy of El Asnam

An ill-fated city is devastated again by a killer quake

Unlike Algeria's ancient coastal cities, with their crowded casbahs and narrow streets, the inland city of El Asnam in the fertile Cheliff River valley was starkly up to date. Its streets were wide, and its public buildings were modern and built of sandstone. Most of El Asnam's 125,000 inhabitants' homes were equally contemporary, and with good reason: just 26 years ago, the prosperous farming center 120 miles southwest of Algiers was devastated by a major earthquake, which killed 1,600 people. Thus the city's...

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