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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Algerians Hurl Stones at President

BOUMERDES, Algeria -- The death toll from a devastating earthquake in northern Algeria rose to more than 2,000 Sunday, hours after furious crowds threw debris and insults at the country's president when he visited the quake zone.

Many blame the government for the high death toll and shortages of food and water after the 6.8-magnitude quake flattened villages east of Algiers on Wednesday. The Interior Ministry said at least 2,047 people were killed and 8,626 injured, the APS news agency reported.

The death toll was expected to rise as bodies were pulled from the rubble. Hakim Mohand, of the Algerian civil protection unit, said it could reach 3,000.

The anger came as Japanese rescue workers said they pulled a survivor -- a 21-year-old waiter -- from the rubble of a hotel on the coast at midnight Friday.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika tried to tour the quake-ravaged town of Boumerdes on Saturday, but angry crowds harangued him with shouts of "pouvoir assassin!" -- a common slogan roughly translated as "the authorities -- killers." Bouteflika cut his visit short. Police fought to hold back the crowd as he drove away, with many people throwing chunks of rubble and other objects at his car and some kicking the cars in his motorcade.

The president faced similar anger later in the day in Lakhdaria, where one elderly protester loudly accused the government of misappropriating international aid meant for quake victims.

He later shrugged off the protests, calling them "testimony to the vitality of Algerian youth."

The abuse directed at Bouteflika and other officials was a bold display of criticism against a military-backed government known to clamp down on dissent.

Amid the strife and destruction, Japanese aid workers -- after three hours of digging through the wrecked Adim Beach Resort at Zemmouri -- rescued a man who had escaped injury.

Hope of finding further survivors, however, was evaporating. Ishigure said rescues became far less likely more than 72 hours after a quake, and British officials said Saturday they soon would withdraw rescue workers and replace them with relief and recovery experts.

Meanwhile, Agence France Presse reported that Russian rescuers early Friday left Moscow for Algeria to aid in the efforts, citing a Russian Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman. The spokesman told RIA Novosti that 57 rescuers, including 24 doctors and two rescuers with sniffer dogs, were part of the mission.

The threat of disease was rising, officials said, especially with temperatures rising to almost 40 degrees Celsius.

People in the quake zone accused the government of inadequately providing food, medicine and blankets. Some said government failure to rush mechanical diggers to affected areas delayed rescues and contributed to the death toll.

In Bordj Menaiel, a town of 20,000 built largely by Algeria's former French colonial rulers, residents claimed the government had done nothing to help them. They said the lack of necessities was exacerbating tensions between the ethnic Berbers who live here and Algeria's Arab-run government.

A 45-year-old who would only give his name as Rabah said he was among several hundred protesters when Interior Minister Nourredine Yazid Zerhouni toured the town Friday. "He told us the damage could have been worse, that we should be patient. But how can we be patient when there are people, families under the rubble?" he said. "I am ready to go to prison, but I will not be ruled by this inhumane government."