817.48 Earthquake of 1931/64: Telegram

The Minister in Nicaragua ( Hanna ) to the Secretary of State

Exodus from city continues. People now moving to León and other points to the westward by rail. Hundreds leaving on foot with effects on bull carts. The indications are that the city will be practically deserted at least temporarily. The thousands of refugees who have fled to the eastward are creating a new relief problem. This was anticipated. Relief has been requested by Granada and Masaya. Food supplies were shipped to Granada today. Mr. Swift visited Masaya and Granada today and will report on conditions tomorrow. These are but the first of many outlying cities and towns that will require relief for considerable time. President Moncada has appointed local relief committees in many such places with which the Central Committee will cooperate. Every effort will be made to [Page 792] prevent abuse of relief measures. We are feeding about [eight] thousand people here but the number probably will gradually grow less as it increases elsewhere. Supplies here and on the way are sufficient for present needs.

There is no change for the worse in the health conditions here. All but a small number of the sick and injured have been evacuated. Efforts to repair the water system are progressing favorably and it probably will be operating in another week. The interruption in the railway to the westward of the city will be eliminated in 3 or 4 days. The fire is being held within limits and probably will burn its way through the city on a narrow front to the westward.

The problem of restoring normal conditions in such measure that the relief will not be prolonged indefinitely is now engaging our attention. We will eventually need the advice and assistance of the Government of the United States in this connection. I hope the Department will now begin to give consideration to this phase of the problem. Nicaragua must receive material assistance from somewhere if it is to recover from this disaster in any reasonable time.