Distraught Algerians flock to see whale
26th May 2003
Glistening black under a searing sun, a small whale has washed up on the shores of this town, possibly the most peculiar victim of Algeria's worst earthquake in a generation.
Dozens of locals, seeking a needed respite from their own agony following the quake, flocked to the shore today to take a look at the corpse of the three-metre creature of the deep.
"It must have come from Spain," said Abdennour Siman, 18, poking the body gently. "We never see whales here in Algeria."
It was not clear whether the whale, whose soft flesh had begun to decompose, had died as a result of Wednesday's quake.
But the whale washed up just a day after the quake hit Algeria's northeast coast and unsettled the Mediterranean, sending two-metre waves to Spain's Balearic Islands some 280 kilometres north of the capital, Algiers. At least 150 boats were destroyed, officials said.
Omar, 17, who together with his family has evacuated his home and moved into a makeshift camp, was on a cliff overlooking the beach when the quake hit.
"I saw the sea pull back," he said, recalling the quake that left more than 2,200 people dead. "After the terrible noise of the quake it just moved away in complete silence."