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Quake relief supplies pour into Cairo

Government, private and international relief workers Tuesday tried to help those left homeless by Egypt's biggest earthquake, which killed about 400 people and injured thousands.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak inspected rescue work and promised to house the homeless, many of them from Cairo's poorer neighborhoods, where scores of old buildings collapsed and many more cracked in the earthquake.

Most of the dead had been buried by midday, and life in the sprawling city of 12-million people, one of the world's most densely packed urban areas, resumed as normal.

Planes from Algeria, France, Germany and Kuwait arrived with tents, medical supplies, rescue experts and sniffer dogs, and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait together donated $70-million in cash.

"We will see how to house those whose buildings collapsed . . . that is our responsibility, with state money," an exhausted Mubarak told reporters after flying back from China, where he had been at the time of the quake.

He put the death toll at between 385 and 400 and said 536 buildings had been damaged or destroyed, adding that first estimates suggested the earthquake would cost the government more than $150-million.

Rumors ran around the city that experts were predicting another quake. Thousands of people camped out on the airport road and left their cracked homes carrying their possessions in bundles.

Civil defense, army, fire brigade and police rescuers converged on the ruins of a 14-story building in the middle-class suburb of Heliopolis. Rescuers continued digging, but the last live victim was brought out early Tuesday morning.

Two professional unions controlled by Moslem fundamentalists criticized the government for being too slow and launched a relief effort of their own.

Mohammed Ali Bashr, secretary-general of the engineers' union, told Reuters: "We see no fruit from the government up until now . . . we want quick implementation, not quick publicity."

The government promised $150 to the families of the dead and $60 to the injured, and officials started to pay out $15 a head to injured at a hospital in a northern slum area.

Mubarak said Islamic buildings in Cairo, an ancient seat of Islamic learning, would need more than $30-million maintenance.

Egypt's major monuments, including the world-famous Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, were in the earthquake zone but were not damaged. The Suez canal was working normally and oil and tourist facilities also escaped undamaged, officials said.