Third Quake Rattles El Salvador
Written by Stephanie Kriner, Staff Writer,, with news reports

For the third time in five weeks, an earthquake sent thousands of people fleeing into the streets of the El Salvador capital San Salvador on Saturday afternoon. The temblor was among thousands of aftershocks in recent weeks.

The quake hit at 3 p.m. (2100 GMT) and lasted seven seconds. Its epicenter was in Santa Tecla, just south of San Salvador. The quake had a magnitude of 5.3, according to preliminary estimates from the National Emergency Committee. Local media estimates put the quake at magnitude 6.2.

The quake's epicenter was located just south San Salvador.  

 The quake shook buildings in the capital and frayed nerves in a nation already stricken by two deadly temblors and thousands of aftershocks. When the quake hit, the San Salvador Volcano belched an ominous cloud of dust into the sky.

Relief officials are waiting for reports from search-and-rescue teams inspecting the disaster-stricken region to determine the exact damage and possible injuries.

The Red Cross is in El Salvador helping victims of this year's quakes.

 "Preliminary information indicates that it is quite severe," Dennis McClean of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told CNN. "Our people tell us that there was a fall of ash from a volcano on the edge of San Salvador, which indicates it was a very severe earthquake indeed."

The El Salvadoran government reported one death and three injuries and said the temblor set off scattered landslides. Rescuers pulled two survivors from the ruins of a house in Apopa, north of San Salvador.

A 7.6-magnitude quake on Jan. 13 killed at least 844 people and damaged or destroyed 278,000 dwellings. Exactly one month later, a 6.6-magnitude temblor left at least another 402 dead, injured 3,153 and destroyed 45,000 homes. Relief organizations, including the American Red Cross, who arrived to help disaster victims after the first quake, are still there.

The continual aftershocks and temblors have left people in an almost constant state of fear. "I'm panicked," survivor Esmeralda Mendoza told the Associated Press. "This is going to finish off El Salvador."

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