Associated Press Writer – Rescue teams from across Europe headed to Algeria (search) on Friday to help the North African nation recover from a devastating earthquake.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies sought $1.5 million to provide food, blankets and medicines for survivors of the quake that leveled villages east of Algiers late Wednesday.
A team from the Geneva-based federation was sent to evaluate needs and coordinate assistance, and the group said it expects to appeal for more emergency funds soon. Relief workers in countries ranging from Portugal to Russia mobilized to help.
The United States sent covers, tents and medical supplies and unblocked $50,000 for the Algerian Red Crescent, comparable to the Red Cross (search).
More than 1,600 people were killed, more than 7,200 injured and thousands left homeless by the quake.
The German Red Cross, which had 25 relief specialists in Algeria with search dogs and recovery equipment, reported Friday that the devastation was even worse than they had feared.
"Time is running out," spokesman Luebbo Roewer said.
Britain sent 98 rescue workers with seven dogs and Austria contributed more than 100 rescuers with dozens of dogs. Turkey, which has suffered its own devastating earthquakes in recent years, dispatched 21 specialists.
Rescue teams and disaster workers were also expected from Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, South Africa and Russia.
Initial pledges of aid to purchase badly needed blankets, food and medicine also began arriving Friday, much of it through the International Red Cross.
An aid flight organized by the U.N. Children's Fund was to depart from Copenhagen Saturday, carrying tents and a month's worth of other emergency supplies for 120,000 people, UNICEF (search) spokesman Damien Personnaz said.
"UNICEF already has a team in Algeria helping war-traumatized children, and they will now be working with children affected by the earthquake," he said.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva said it sent a 10-member team to Algeria Thursday, said spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs.