The San Salvador earthquake caused a relatively large number of casualties. Perhaps one-third of the fatalities occurred in engineered structures. Structural collapse, nonstructural elements, occupant actions, fire, and soil failure all played a role in earthquake injuries. The collapse of several multistory buildings necessitated heavy rescue operations by local authorities, foreign experts, and volunteers. This experience revealed the need for better coordination of such efforts in future disasters. Earthquake damage significantly disrupted local health services, causing evacuation of all major hospitals. Health care continues in temporary facilities. Future health service decentralization is a possible positive outcome.

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