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BUSH VISITS QUAKE AREA AS DEATH TOLL FIGURES DROP
LLOYD’S ESTIMATES $5 BILLION DAMAGE

SHARE BUSH VISITS QUAKE AREA AS DEATH TOLL FIGURES DROP
LLOYD’S ESTIMATES $5 BILLION DAMAGE

President Bush arrived Friday to survey the earthquake damage, while death toll estimates shrank but tensions and frustrations grew.

The president landed south of San Francisco and toured the collapsed Interstate 880 in Oakland and hard-hit Santa Cruz. He said he hoped "to take a look and to provide encouragement to people."Three days after the quake, the need for encouragement seemed to be growing. Damage estimates by the state Office of Emergency Services rose to well over $4 billion. Lloyd's of London, the insurance underwriting group, placed damage at $5 billion in downtown San Francisco alone.

A private economist, Frank McCormick of Bank of America in San Francisco, said damage is likely to reach $10 billion. An estimated 12,550 people were displaced, 10,000 in hard-hit Santa Cruz County, the agency said.

In some towns, residents said they were too afraid to sleep indoors because of the Earth's unrest.

"I can't stop shaking," said Marcelina Toussaint, a 73-year-old resident of Watsonville, a town near the epicenter of Tuesday's 6.9 quake. "I guess I'm surviving, but I'm scared."

A moderate aftershock registered 3.9 on the Richter scale at 1:13 a.m. Friday, said Rick McKenzie at the Seismographic Station at the University of California at Berkeley. It was centered about seven miles southwest of Los Gatos, and was felt north and south of San Francisco. More than 1,400 aftershocks have hit since Tuesday.

Bush's trip, on the heels of the tour by Vice President Dan Quayle and Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner, is part of swift administration action in the wake of complaints that the federal government responded too slowly after Hurricane Hugo struck the Caribbean and southeastern United States.

In Oakland, the monstrous task of uncovering cars and trucks crushed in the collapse of a 11/4-mile stretch of I-880 continued with no signs of survivors.

Lt. Kristina Wraa of the Oakland police said Friday that 167 people were still unaccounted for in Alameda County, which includes Oakland and several other communities. It was assumed that many of them were buried in the rubble of I-880.

Rescuers had pulled 21 bodies from the highway wreckage by Friday morning. In addition, at least 20 others were killed elsewhere in Northern California. About 2,000 people were injured in eight counties, officials said.

Rescuers said they were finding fewer cars than feared under the highway, known as the Nimitz freeway. Some credited the World Series with reducing Tuesday's rush-hour traffic by drawing baseball fans to television sets. "Maybe the World Series saved our lives," said Oakland police Sgt. Bob Crawford.

The third game of the championship between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants had been set to begin just minutes after the killer quake struck at 5:04 p.m. "Normally at 5 o'clock in the afternoon this area would be bumper-to-bumper," Crawford said.

Initially, authorities had estimated 253 people were buried under the debris. That was based on the assumption that cars stretched bumper-to-bumper on the crushed lower level of the double-deck highway.

"They are going lower, much lower in fact," said Lisa Covington, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Emergency Services.

On the railing of the freeway's flattened upper deck, markers of fluorescent green, pink and orange spray paint mapped the carnage of crushed cars and shattered bodies.

The code was crisp and clear: The letters 1DOA signified a body, 2MT a pair of empty cars, a circle and arrow with the number 43 showed a car 43 feet away.

One firefighter had tears in his eyes after crawling into an 18-inch-high opening to pull out the bodies of a 6-year-old girl and her mother.

"It kills you. It just kills you," said the firefighter, Lee Kraft. "The adults are no problem. But the kids . . ."

Electricity was restored to about 98 percent of the area by Thursday, utility spokesman Greg Pruett said. Commuters returned to much of downtown San Francisco, some schools and bank branches reopened, and cable car service resumed. But life was far from normal.

-OAKLAND _ In downtown Oakland, the quake ruined 13 commercial buildings and 1,400 residential units, including housing for 100 elderly residents now in shelters, officials said. More than 200 other buildings were damaged.

The ornate, 78-year-old City Hall was declared uninhabitable and some crucial city services have been moved to the fire department.

The historic Amtrak railroad station in west Oakland suffered three big cracks and may have to be razed, officials said.

In all, the mayor estimated damages in Oakland at $1.3 billion _ not including the Nimitz collapse.

-SAN FRANCISCO _ Mayor Art Agnos met with about 1,000 residents of the Marina district Thursday afternoon and said those with homes damaged enough to be classified as risky could be escorted in for 15 minutes to retrieve belongings.

Hundreds lined up for passes.

Agnos said the city's $5.9 million reserve fund has been depleted. "On paper," he said, "the city is broke."

Gov. George Deukmejian said he would not hesitate to propose temporarily raising state sales taxes if more money is needed to rebuild.

Deukmejian said there is precedent for such a temporary tax hike, adding that gasoline taxes sometimes have been increased to pay for road repairs from natural disasters.

-WATSONVILLE _ In Watsonville, 65 miles south of San Francisco, 56 people were treated at a community clinic Thursday, mostly for bruises and frazzled nerves from the aftershocks, said city spokeswoman Lorraine Washington.

About 150 people were evacuated from a National Guard Armory shelter after a natural gas leak.

Many residents of the town of 30,000, part of California's "salad bowl" where much of the nation's lettuce, asparagus and artichokes are grown, spread across lawns and vacant lots like refugees.

"We're talking about people with no resources, no money for food and no money for health care," said Barbara Garcia, executive director of Salud Pera La Gente, a state-financed community clinic.

-SANTA CRUZ _ Despite widespread damage, residents of Santa Cruz began resuming routine activities as businesses slowly continued to reopen, mostly on a limited basis.

Ron Fahl, a city public information officer, said damage totaled $83 million to both public and private property. The immediate concern was for the damaged levees along the Lorenzo River, which could result in serious flooding later on.

"The quake changed the character of the city," Fahl told the Deseret News' John Hart.

Outside a shelter for the homeless, though, pictures drawn by children showed some youngsters had hope for the future. Ten-year-old Amanda Charnas of Santa Cruz drew the Earth, flowers sprouting from a crack and a rainbow nearby.

"Because that's what I think it will look like when the cracks are gone, I think there will be rainbows," Amanda said.