April 19, 2016
UPDATE: 8:36 a.m. IST — The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in coastal Ecuador has reached 413, the Associated Press quoted the government as saying.
April 18, 2016
UPDATE: 10:51 a.m. IST — The toll of dead people in the Ecuador earthquake has further risen to 272, ABC News quoted President Rafael Correa as saying. The toll is expected to rise "considerably" as rescuers are still pulling out bodies from the debris, he added.
Original Story —
The toll from the massive earthquake along Ecuador's Pacific coast has risen to 262, the Associated Press quoted Vice Minister Diego Fuentes as saying. The 7.8-magnitude quake, said to be the most powerful to hit the nation since 1979, has left more than 2,500 people injured and caused extensive damages to the region.
Ecuador Vice President Jorge Glas said the toll is expected to rise further as several people are still missing. Rescue operations were underway on Sunday as relief teams pulled out people stuck under the debris of collapsed buildings. Authorities provided water, food and blankets to the survivors.
Bridges and roads were also damaged in the quake that jolted the coastal region of the South American country on Saturday. Coastal Manabi Province was the worst affected among all the regions as at least 200 deaths were reported from there, according to CNN.
"I found my house like this. What am I going to do? Cry, that's what. Now we are on the street with nothing," local Nely Intriago said as he stood in front of debris.
Over 160 aftershocks, mostly in Pedernales area, were felt after the quake. Authorities have declared a state of emergency in six provinces, Reuters reported. President Rafael Correa cut short his trip to Italy, saying that the "immediate priority is to rescue people in the rubble."
"Everything can be rebuilt but lives cannot be recovered and that's what hurts the most," Correa told state radio, according to Reuters.
As many as 10,000 soldiers, 4,600 police officers and military's K9 units have been deployed across the quake-hit regions of Ecuador. The security forces have set up temporary shelters and mobile hospitals in Pedernales and Portoviejo.
Rain has worsened the situation. "The lack of water and communication remains a big problem. Many highways are in bad shape, especially in the mountainous area because it has been raining recently due to (the) El Niño weather phenomenon," Ricardo Peñaherrera of Ecuador's national emergency management office told CNN.
Besides the security forces, Ecuador Red Cross and World Vision have also sent their teams to assist in the rescue operations and aid distributions. Meanwhile, teams from Unicef and Impact Your World have arrived in the affected areas to monitor the situation, CNN reported.