PRESIDENT Clinton declared the earthquake-stricken region of southern California a federal disaster area Jan. 17 and said the United States government was pulling out all the stops to rush aid there.

``Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of southern California,'' he told reporters standing by as he signed the disaster declaration in the White House Oval Office.

Mr. Clinton said he had spoken with Gov. Pete Wilson (R) of California and Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and assured them Washington ``would do all that we possibly can to be helpful.''

The disaster declaration lays the groundwork for massive relief aid from the government. Clinton said it would make money available for low-interest loans for rebuilding homes, businesses, highways, and schools, and for unemployment compensation, among other things.

Reports from Los Angeles said at least 30 people had died in the predawn quake, which measured 6.6 on the open-ended Richter scale.

Clinton said there were no damage estimates yet, but thought the ``most urgent and expensive need that we know about now'' was the rebuilding of three buckled freeways, which he said were ``pivotal'' to California's economy.

He said Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt, Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros, and Transportation Secretary Federico Pena were on their way to the southern California area to help assess relief needs.

The following is a list of some relief agencies taking donations for earthquake victims:

* American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Open Mailbox, 711 Third Ave., 10th floor, New York City, N.Y., 10017. (212) 687-6200.

* AmeriCares, 161 Cherry St., New Canaan, Conn., 06840. 1-800-486-HELP.

* American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 3756, Church Street Station, NYC, NY, 10008. (Checks only) 1-800-842-2200.

* Disaster Relief Fund of B'nai B'rith, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20036. 1-202-857-6582.

* CARE, 660 First Ave., NYC, N.Y., 10016. 1-800-521-CARE.

* Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, Md., 21298-9664. 1-800-SEND-HOPE.

* Christian Children's Fund, 203 E. Cary St., Richmond, Va., 23219. 1-800-441-1000.

* Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, CRWRC-LA Earthquake, 2850 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, Mich., 49560.

* Inter-Lutheran Disaster Relief, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, Ill., 60631., 312-395-6891.

* Mercy Corps. International, 3030 S.W. 1st Ave., Portland, Ore. 97201, 1-800-292-3355.

* National Association of Evangelicals, P.O. Box WRC, Department 3, Wheaton, Ill., 60189 (checks payable to ``world relief'').

* North Shore Animal League, to help displaced animals: 14 Vanderventer St., Port Washington, N.Y., 11050, Attention: Earthquake Disaster (checks payable to league).

* Salvation Army World Service Office, 799 Bloomfield Ave., Verona, N.J. 07044. (201) 857-8822.

* Save the Children, Box 975, Westport, Conn., 06881. (203) 221-4000.

* The US Committee for UNICEF, 333 E. 38th St., NYC, N.Y., 10016.

* United Way Earthquake Fund, P.O. Box 010790, Miami, Fla., 33101.

* World Relief, P.O. Box WRC, Wheaton Ill., 60189, 1-800-535-5433.

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