El Salvador

El Salvador - Earthquakes Final Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year (FY) 2001


On January 13, 2001 at approximately 11:35 am local time, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter Scale and a depth of 60 km occurred off the El Salvadoran coastline some 65 miles southwest of San Miguel at 12.8 degrees latitude and 88.8 degrees longitude. On February 13, 2001 at 8:22 am local time, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter Scale and a depth of about 13 km struck El Salvador. The earthquake’s epicenter was located some 30 km east of San Salvador in San Pedro Nonualco in the department of La Paz, and was felt throughout El Salvador and in Guatemala and Honduras. Consistent with expected seismic activity following earthquakes of this magnitude, aftershocks continue to occur in El Salvador.

Numbers Affected

El Salvador’s National Emergency Committee (COEN) has provided data for the table below. The figures for the January 13 earthquake were last updated by COEN on February 9, and on February 21 for the February 13 earthquake. COEN has finalized these figures and will no longer update the numbers affected.

People Affected
Houses Damaged
Houses Destroyed
January 13
February 13

Current Situation


COEN coordinated the overall response from its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) (e.g. conducting damage and needs assessments, compiling assessment information, and setting relief priorities) and worked closely with the Salvadoran Armed Forces and other rescue organizations. COEN departmental committees complemented COEN’s main office in relief efforts.

Although pockets of damage occurred throughout the country as a result of the earthquakes, the departments of Usulutan, La Libertad, La Paz, San Vicente, San Miguel, and Sonsonate were most affected by the January 13 earthquake and the departments of Cuscatlan, La Paz, and San Vicente were most affected by the February 13 earthquake.

The Government of El Salvador (GOES) estimates that the cost of rebuilding after the two earthquakes is more than $2.8 billion.

Multilateral Organization Response

OCHA allocated $30,000 for the purchase of emergency relief supplies and received three grants of $30,000 each from the governments of Denmark, Italy, and Norway for similar activities.

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that the rehabilitation of hospitals and health centers will cost $162 million.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced on February 13 the approval of a $20 million emergency loan for El Salvador. A $15 million portion of the loan will be used to provide families with basic housing kits and to fund clean-up and debris removal. A $3.9 million portion will stabilize hillsides in populated areas. In addition, the IDB held a Consultative Group meeting for the reconstruction of El Salvador on March 7 in Madrid, Spain. According to the IDB, $1.3 billion in aid has been pledged by various countries in support of reconstruction efforts. The IDB has also approved a $105 million loan to rebuild 600 km of roadways damaged by the earthquakes.

The World Food Program (WFP) is coordinating the provision of food aid with the National Secretariat of the Family. As of April 23, WFP reports that it has received $4 million towards its emergency operations.

UNICEF reports that it is working with the National Water Administration (ANDA) and has provided nearly 250,000 people with emergency water assistance. UNICEF is also working with ANDA, OCHA, and the Ministry of Health to build latrines in the affected areas.

Other Donors

  • The governments of Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua sent rescue brigades to help extricate people buried by landslides and collapsed homes.
  • The Government of Mexico sent 65 military personnel to El Salvador on February 14, along with a medical team and medical supplies.
  • The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) provided $60,000 for emergency relief.
  • The Government of the Netherlands provided an emergency cash grant of $42,000 through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
  • The Government of Canada (GOC) provided $805,000 to PAHO/WHO, IFRC, and NGOs for emergency assistance. The GOC is also providing approximately $2.7 million in relief and reconstruction assistance to the GOES. Approximately $645,000 of the funding will be used to support rehabilitation efforts such as the reconstruction of houses, repairs to schools and potable water systems, and healthcare services in the earthquake-affected areas.
  • The Government of the Dominican Republic provided relief supplies valued at $146,370.
  • he Government of Venezuela contributed a field hospital with three surgical rooms for the municipality of Verapaz.
  • The Government of Spain (GOS) sent relief supplies, four doctors, and five search and rescue experts to El Salvador. The GOS has also offered to loan the GOES $36 million for relief efforts.
  • The Government of Japan gave approximately $2.1 million to the GOES for the procurement of materials to construct 10,000 units of prefabricated housing, and about $345,000 to the Japanese Red Cross for emergency shelter.

On March 13, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) announced that it is providing approximately $7.3 million in response to the February earthquake, bringing its total earthquake contribution to more than $9.1 million. ECHO will channel the funds through several partner NGOs and other international organizations. Almost half of the funding will be used to provide temporary emergency shelters and the remainder will be used for health, water, and sanitation interventions.

U.S. Government (USG) Assistance

In response to the January 13 earthquake, U.S. Ambassador Rose Likins declared a disaster on January 14. A second disaster declaration was issued by Chargé d’Affaires Mark Boulware on February 13 following the February earthquake. These disaster declarations allowed for the provision of the USG assistance outlined below.

USAID/OFDA Assistance

A USAID/DART, including a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) component, was in El Salvador from January 13-26. The MDFR personnel assisted the GOES in developing site strategies for search and rescue activities, safety measures for rescue workers, security plans for search sites, and training on the construction of temporary emergency shelters. A USAID/OFDA Assessment Team was in El Salvador from February 13-March 3.

USAID/OFDA provided 7,160 rolls of plastic sheeting to El Salvador in response to the January and February earthquakes. This assistance is in addition to the relief commodities such as a Ground Operations (GO) kit and water jugs which were provided following the January 13 earthquake. The purchase and transport of all the relief commodities totals $2,212,019.

As part of BHR’s commitment to recovery efforts in response to the earthquakes in El Salvador, USAID/OFDA provided USAID/San Salvador with $3 million on March 5.

USAID/OFDA provided a total of $7,475,000 in grants to six NGOs to build shelters for approximately 22,000 families in Ahuachapan, Cuscatlan, La Libertad, La Paz, San Vicente, and Usulutan departments. The shelter programs utilize USAID/OFDA plastic sheeting and involve beneficiaries in debris removal and shelter construction. The USAID/OFDA shelter grants were awarded to CHF, CARE, Lutheran World Federation, Project Concern International, Samaritan’s Purse, and Save the Children.

Through the provision of shelter grants and plastic sheeting, USAID/OFDA implementing partners have constructed more than 32,000 shelters for earthquake-affected families.

USAID/OFDA provided $745,000 for the local purchase and distribution of relief supplies, administrative support, and the establishment of 18 temporary health posts. Funds were also used to support the temporary provision of potable water to three hospitals.

USAID/OFDA also funded the deployment of 46 Southcom personnel, including flight crews, structural engineers, and medics from January 14-19. The total operational cost incurred by USAID/OFDA in support of DOD’s assistance was $450,000.

Other USG Assistance

On March 2, U.S. President George Bush met with El Salvador’s President Flores and announced the USG pledge of $52 million in post-earthquake reconstruction assistance to El Salvador for FY 2001. This funding is being channeled through USAID/San Salvador.

USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) contributed 1,750 MT of P.L. 480 Title II emergency food commodities valued at $917,700 to WFP to replenish the stocks it distributed to the victims of the January 13 and February 13 earthquakes.

USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) provided USAID/San Salvador with $2 million on June 22 to be used by the NGO CARE to support housing reconstruction in the hardest hit areas of the country.

USAID/OFDA funded three Blackhawk and two Chinook helicopters provided by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Southern Command (Southcom) in support of the humanitarian missions from January 14-19.

Three helicopters (2 Blackhawk and 1 Chinook) from Southcom responded to priorities established by COEN and the Salvadoran Armed Forces from February 14 to 16 at a cost of $116,000.

Southcom delivered a shipment of construction equipment, including two five-ton dump trucks, two twenty-ton dump trucks, two bulldozers, and one truck. The shipment arrived on April 1 and is valued at $944,000, including transportation costs. Southcom also shipped tents, blankets, and sheets to El Salvador in mid-April. Total cost for these items including transport is $880,000.

On February 18, Southcom deployed a Medical Readiness Training (MEDRETE) unit consisting of DOD reserve medical personnel training for deployment to disasters. The training exercise was rescheduled to allow for response to the February 13 earthquake. The MEDRETEs were in the departments of Usulutan, La Paz, and Cuscatlan and provided patients with outpatient care through February 29.

U.S. Geological Survey personnel in the region conducted aerial assessments of damage from the February earthquake.

Mitigation Assistance

For more than 10 years, USAID/OFDA has provided extensive training in El Salvador and neighboring Central American countries to increase their local capacity to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Courses include Damage and Needs Assessment, Advanced First Aid, and Rescue from Collapsed Structures.

USAID/OFDA also contributes funds to GeoHazards International (GHI) to reduce seismic hazards in San Salvador as part of a larger grant supporting similar work in 12 other earthquake-prone cities along the Pacific Rim.

USAID/OFDA provided USGS with $30,000 to assess the risk of flooding, erosion, and slope failure due to landslides, which may occur during the rainy season.

USAID/OFDA also provided funding for two volcanologists from the USGS Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) to travel to El Salvador in January to install two telemetered seismic monitoring stations and repeaters and to train local volcanologists from the Center for Geotechnical Investigations (CIG) on the use of the equipment. The total cost of this assistance was $50,000.

USG Funding Summary

USG Agency
USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Authority for purchase of protective gear
USAID/OFDA Administrative support costs for USAID/DART personnel
USAID/OFDA Value of GO kit
USAID/OFDA Value of relief commodities
USAID/OFDA Transport of GO kit and relief commodities
USAID/OFDA Local purchase and transport of relief commodities
USAID/OFDA Shelter grants to CHF, CARE, and Samaritan’s Purse
USAID/OFDA DOD air operations
USAID/OFDA USGS volcano technical specialists and equipment
Total USAID/OFDA Assistance for January 13 Earthquake
USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Authority for local purchase of relief supplies
USAID/OFDA Purchase and transport of plastic sheeting
USAID/OFDA Local purchase of relief supplies
USAID/OFDA Shelter grants to CHF, CARE, PCI, Samaritan’s Purse, Save the Children, and Lutheran World Federation
USAID/OFDA USGS landslide technical specialists
USAID/OFDA Fundcite for USAID/San Salvador recovery efforts
USAID/OFDA Fundcite for shelter construction
Total USAID/OFDA Assistance for February 13 Earthquake
USAID/FFP 1,750 MT of P.L. 480 Title II Food Commodities
Total USAID/FFP Assistance for February 13 Earthquake
USAID/OTI Fundcite for USAID/San Salvador recovery efforts
Total USAID/OTI Assistance for February 13 Earthquake
DOD Air operations
Total DOD Assistance for February 13 Earthquake
USAID/OFDA Total Assistance for January and February Earthquakes
USG Total USG Assistance for January and February Earthquakes

Public Donation Information

In the interest of effective coordination of public response, USAID encourages the public to contact directly those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region to provide monetary donations.

A list of the PVOs may be obtained from the USAID web site at http://www.usaid.gov/. Those interested in providing specific technical relief services or commodities should contact Volunteers in Technical Assistance's (VITA’s) Disaster Information Center for information and guidelines at 703-276-1914.

USAID will not deviate from standard Denton Program procedures for transporting privately donated relief supplies. USAID will prioritize delivery of essential relief commodities. For more information on the Denton Program, please refer to the USAID website at http://www.usaid.gov/hum_response/pvc/denton.html.

For additional information about the relief effort in El Salvador, please refer to the Natural Disasters section of ReliefWeb at http://www.reliefweb.int/.

The American Red Cross donations hotline is 1-800-HELP NOW.

El Salvador’s National Commission for Solidarity, charged with receiving and distributing contributions from the international community, provides official guidance for cash donations at http://www.rree.gob.sv/.

USAID/OFDA fact sheets can be obtained from the USAID web site at http://www.usaid.gov/hum_response/ofda/situation.html