Earthquake in Ecuador on April 17 2016 02:41 AM (UTC).
A total of 113 people were rescued from flattened buildings after Ecuador's largest quake in over three decades. Ecuador's Risk Management Secretariat, or SGR, raised the death toll of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country's pacific coast on April. 16 to 660 in its latest report. The findings, released on Friday, said that 30,073 people have been provided with health care, 4,605 of whom suffered injuries that needed urgent treatment. On a more positive note the group revised the number of people rescued from flattened buildings to 113 which is a testament to rescue operations, aided by numerous other countries, conducted immdeiatley after the tremor. Of the 560 schools hit by the quake, 166 have a degree of damage rated between "medium and extreme. The coastal province of Manabi was hit hardest by the quake while parts of the neighboring province of Esmeraldas suffered loss of life, injury and significant damage to infrastructure. In Manabi alone, the SGR registered 646 fatalities and 26 missing persons.
The death toll from last week's magnitude-7.8 earthquake that flattened towns along Ecuador's coast has risen to 654 with another 58 people missing, the government said Saturday. The website of the secretariat for risk management said that 113 people had been rescued alive following the quake and more than 25,000 people remained in shelters. The death toll from Ecuador's quake has surpassed that of Peru's 2007 temblor, making it the deadliest quake in South America since one in Colombia in 1999 killed more than 1,000 people. Hundreds of aftershocks have rattled the country since last Saturday night's quake and Ecuadoreans are still sleeping outside and struggling to find food and water. Aid is arriving from abroad but relief workers have warned of delays in water distribution and said mosquito-borne illness could spread through the camps. President Rafael Correa has said the quake caused $3 billion in damage and warned that the reconstruction effort will take years. His administration is temporarily raising taxes to fund the recovery. Even before the quake, Ecuador was bracing for a bout of austerity, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting the economy would shrink 4.5 percent this year.
The death toll from Ecuador's magnitude-7.8 earthquake climbed to 654 Saturday evening, according to the country's Risk Management Office. The agency also reported that 58 people remain missing since the April 16 quake and 12,492 are injured. It also announced that almost 26,091 people remain in shelters. Most of the deaths came from three towns in coastal Ecuador: Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales, according to statistics provided by the office. In an effort to boost reconstruction efforts, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced a series of financial measures, including a tax increase, on prime time television. "Rebuilding the affected areas will take years and cost millions of dollars," he said. "The short term costs are significant." He announced a raft of short-term and one-time tax measures, including a sales tax increase for one year. He also said that the government will sell some of its assets. The news comes amid continued shaking in the South American nation. An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 struck off the coast of Ecuador early Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from that quake, which hit 20 miles west of the coastal city of Muisne. That's very near the site of the April 16 earthquake -- the deadliest in Ecuador since a 1987 quake that killed 1,000 people. The lesser earthquakes -- 23 in all since the big one, according to the USGS -- come as the country is trying to deal with its worst disaster in decades, Defense Minister Ricardo Patino said Tuesday. "We're facing the most difficult phase right now, which is rescuing victims and recovering bodies," Patino said. "We're removing debris, and we will very likely find more bodies. It's going to take us years to recover from this." Rescue crews and aid from Latin America and beyond have poured into the South American nation. The hardest-hit area of the South American nation was the coastal Manabi Province, said Ricardo Penaherrera of Ecuador's national emergency management office. There were at least dozens and perhaps hundreds of collapsed buildings there, Patino said. Images from around the country posted on social media by local authorities and CNN crews in the field showed huge piles of rubble, collapsed roads and rescuers rushing to help.

In Pedernales, a beautiful tourist city on the Pacific coast, the otherwise-stunning view out across the ocean is marred by the destruction from the shoreline, reaching back throughout the city. A restaurant sits destroyed. Behind it is a five-story hotel, where rescuers have already recovered five bodies. Evidence of others trapped in the rubble brought a rush of help to the site, but as yet they haven't found anyone else alive there. Tuesday, while CNN was reporting from the city, another magnitude-5.5 aftershock brought back memories and further unnerved people. Those who had escaped the initial tremor fled again, and rescue workers had to put down tools to make sure others were safe. Elsewhere, residents struggled to recover amid the devastation. One two-story residence was brought down to one -- the lower floor completely flattened. The family on the first floor wasn't home at the time. Those on the upper floor felt the initial shock and were able to scramble outside before the building collapsed. Damage is everywhere. "It was something very ugly. We thought it was the end of the world," one survivor in Pedernales told CNN's Gustavo Valdes on Monday about the quake. "It started hard, way too hard. We fell. We couldn't get up. It was too strong. ... If it had fallen the other way, we would have died." Victims are grateful they survived, he said, but uncertain of what to do next. "We are waiting to see what we can do, waiting for what the President tells us," he said. "There is no work." The government is going door to door, conducting initial inspections and looking for survivors and victims. Those who survived are getting by as best they can, putting up tents and collecting basic supplies furnished by the government. One family gratefully tapped into a CNN crew's power supply, their phones springing to life, messages once again connecting them to friends and relatives.
A powerful fresh earthquake measuring 6.0 magnitude has struck Ecuador as rescue workers continued to search for survivors of an earlier quake which killed almost 600 people. The latest earthquake's epicentre was 62 miles (100km) north-northwest of Portoviejo and hit on Thursday night (21 April). An aftershock measuring 5.8 was also recorded by the US Geological Survey about 20 minutes later in the same region. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, and a tsunami warning had not been issued. It comes just days after Ecuador was hit by a major 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 16 April causing hundreds of buildings to collapse and significant damage to infrastructure. The death toll has so far reached 587 with 155 people listed as missing. Foreign nationals, including from the UK, Ireland and Canada, have been confirmed among the dead. Rescue workers, friends and family continued to hunt for remaining survivors as thousands made homeless sought refuge in makeshift shelters. Unicef warned on Tuesday at least 150,000 children are affected, which 119 schools left damaged. President Rafael Correa said the cost of reconstruction could be up to $3bn (L2.1bn). International aid agencies including The World Food Programme and Oxfam are sending supplies to the country while the UN said it was to carry out a "major aid airlift" to help provide clean water, food and essential shelter. Several powerful tremors have followed Saturday's earthquake, including one of a 6.2 magnitude which struck off the country's coastal town of Muisne early on Wednesday morning.
A magnitude-6.1 aftershock Wednesday set babies crying and sent nervous residents pouring into the streets, fearful of yet more damage following the deadly earthquake over the weekend. The pre-dawn jolt was the strongest aftershock yet since Saturday's magnitude-7.8 quake that killed more than 500 people. Some people in Portoviejo abandoned their homes, even those with no apparent damage, and headed to a former airport where temporary shelters have been set up. The government said the number of known dead stood at 553, but officials expected more bodies to be found. About 7,000 were injured. At least 11 foreigners were among the dead, including two Canadians and three Cuban doctors who had been on a medical mission to Ecuador. The final toll could surpass casualties from earthquakes in Chile and Peru in the past decade. Among the survivors, the situation was growing increasingly tense. While humanitarian aid has been pouring in from around the world, distribution is slow. In Manta on Wednesday, people waited for hours under the tropical sun for water and food supplies. Soldiers kept control with fenced barricades. "They looted the store. I'm taking out what little remains," Jose Encalada said as he cleaned up his paint store in Pedernales, one of the hardest-hit towns. Reflecting some of the desperation, residents in Manta could be seen scavenging through the rubble, no longer looking for loved ones but trying to salvage metallic objects and other items of value. Grief mounted as families buried loved ones, but people held out hope of finding some of 163 people the government said were still missing. Since Saturday, 54 people have been rescued from rubble alive. Rescuers who have arrived from Mexico, Colombia, Spain and other nations said they would keep searching for survivors, but cautioned that time was running out and the likelihood of finding more people alive grew smaller with the passage of every hour. As authorities begin to shift their attention to restoring electricity and clearing debris, the earth continued to move. Local seismologists have recorded more than 550 aftershocks, some felt 105 miles (170 kilometers) away in the capital of Quito. Saturday's earthquake destroyed or damaged about 1,500 buildings and left some 23,500 people homeless, the government said. It was the worst temblor in Ecuador since one in 1949 killed more than 5,000 people. A helicopter flyover of the damage zone Wednesday showed the scale of the devastation, with entire city blocks in ruins as if they had been bombed. Some 13 nations and 32,000 volunteers are involved in the relief effort. Cuba sent more health workers. Venezuela has flown in food and the U.S. government said it would send a team of disaster experts as well $100,000 in assistance. President Rafael Correa has spent the past days overseeing relief efforts and delivering supplies. On Wednesday, he said he would soon announce economic measures to help rebuild. The quake caused $3 billion in damage, about 3 percent of gross domestic product, he said. "This isn't a problem of just three days, three weeks or three months," Correa said. "It's a problem that will take years." After a deadly earthquake in Chile in 2010, that South American country was able to get back on its feet quickly thanks to a commodities boom that was energizing its economy. But Ecuador must rebuild amid a deep recession that has forced austerity on the OPEC nation's finances. Even before the quake, the International Monetary Fund was forecasting the oil-dependent economy would shrink 4.5 percent this year.
The toll from Ecuador's earthquake has risen to 480 dead, and 1,700 people are still missing three days after the disaster, the country's deputy interior minister said today. The official, Diego Fuentes, also said 2,560 people were hurt in the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck Ecuador's Pacific coast on Saturday. The last official death toll from the quake was 413. Officials had not previously given a number for the people missing. The new toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador on Saturday evening updates yesterday's count of 350 dead.
Earthquake-stricken Ecuador faced the grim reality of recovering more bodies than survivors as rescue efforts moved into a third day on Tuesday and the death toll climbed over 400 in the poor South American country. Praying for miracles, desperate family members beseeched rescue teams to find their missing loved ones as they dug through the debris of flattened homes, hotels, and stores in the hardest-hit Pacific coastal region. In Pedernales, a devastated rustic beach town, crowds gathered behind yellow tape to watch firemen and police sift through rubble into the night. The town's soccer stadium was serving as a makeshift relief centre and a morgue. "Find my brother! Please!" shouted Manuel, 17, throwing his arms up to the sky in front of a small corner store where his younger brother had been working when the quake struck on Saturday night. When an onlooker said recovering a body would at least give him the comfort of burying his sibling, Manuel yelled: "Don't say that!" But for Manuel and hundreds of other anxious Ecuadoreans with relatives missing, time was running out. As of Tuesday, rescue efforts would become more of a search for corpses, Interior Minister Jose Serrano told Reuters. The death toll stood at 413, but was expected to rise. The quake has injured at least 2,600 people, damaged over 1,500 buildings, and left 18,000 people spending the night in shelters, according to the leftist government. Visiting the disaster zone on Monday, a moved President Rafael Correa said rebuilding would cost billions of dollars and may inflict a "huge" economic toll on the OPEC nation of 16 million people. In many isolated villages or towns struck by the quake, survivors struggled without water, power, or transport. Rescue operations continued, but the sickly, sweet stench of death told them what they were most likely to find. "There are bodies crushed in the wreckage and from the smell it's obvious they are dead," said army captain Marco Borja in the small tourist village of Canoa. "Today we brought out between seven and eight bodies." Nearly 400 rescue workers flew in from various Latin American neighbors, along with 83 specialists from Switzerland and Spain, to boost rescue efforts. The United States said it would dispatch a team of disaster experts while Cuba was sending a team of doctors. To finance the costs of the emergency, some $600 million in credit from multilateral lenders was immediately activated, the government said. Ecuador also announced late on Monday that it had signed off on a credit line for $2 billion from the China Development Bank (CDB) to finance public investment. China has been the largest financier of Ecuador since 2009 and the credit had been under negotiation before the quake.
The death toll from Ecuador's earthquake rose to 413 on Monday as the State Department confirmed at least one U.S. citizen was killed. "We are aware of the death of one U.S. citizen and have been in touch with their family." John Kirby, a spokesman for the department, said. "We will continue working with Ecuadorian authorities going forward." Kirby did not identify the dead American. Earlier, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said two Canadians were killed. The developments came after Ecuador's President Rafael Correa rushed home Sunday to coordinate rescue and recovery efforts from the 7.8-magnitude temblor that injured an additional 2000 people, reduced hundreds of buildings to rubble and buckled major highways. Most of the deaths were in and around Portoviejo, a city of 200,000 where rescue crews worked around the clock to free people trapped in the wreckage of collapsed buildings. "The pain is immense, but the spirit of the Ecuadorian people is greater," Correa said. "We will move forward from this." The earthquake hit the South American country's northwest coast at 6:58 p.m. Saturday (7:58 p.m. ET). It came on the heels of a smaller 4.5-magnitude quake, which was recorded along the coast south of Muisne, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The country's Geophysics Institute said it recorded 230 aftershocks, some of them quite powerful. Correa, who cut short a trip to Italy to return home, said the immediate priority was the search and rescue mission. "Everything can be rebuilt, but lives cannot be recovered, and that's what hurts the most," he said. Standing next to a wrecked building in Portoviejo, Manuel Quijije said his older brother, Junior, was trapped under a pile of twisted steel and concrete with two relatives. Alice Gandelman and Bill Freedman of Vallejo, California, were on vacation in the seaside town of San Clemente when the quake hit. "We're from the Bay Area. We feel earthquakes," Gandelman told NBC station KCRA of Sacramento. "But this was pretty intense - more than anything we've felt in the Bay Area." Freedman told NBC Bay Area that he saw entire buildings that had been caved in and crumbled cement littering the town. "It started, and there was a big boom, and everyone ran out of the restaurant," Freedman said. "And then it went completely dark." Freedman said many of the buildings were made of cement, like the sidewalks, which he said he saw crumbling before his eyes. The quake damaged El Rodeo prison in the city of Portoviejo, allowing about 100 prisoners to escape, Justice Minister Ledy Zuniga said. About 30 had been recaptured by Sunday night, Zuniga said. Seeking security from any unrest, about 400 residents of Portoviejo gathered Sunday night on the tarmac of the city's former airport, where authorities handed out water, mattresses and food. Shantytowns and cheaply constructed brick and concrete homes were reduced to rubble along the quake's path. In the coastal town of Chamanga, authorities estimated than 90 percent of homes had damage, while in Guayaquil a shopping center's roof fell in and a collapsed highway overpass crushed a car, killing the driver.
The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador has risen to 350, and many survivors are believed to still be trapped inside collapsed buildings. The security minister, Cesar Navas, announced the updated toll and said rescuers were continuing to seek more victims and survivors. More than 300 aftershocks have rattled Ecuador in the 36 hours since Saturday's quake, some measured as high as magnitude 6.1, according to the country's Geophysics Institute. Speaking before the latest death toll was announced, Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, said an earlier figure of 272 would "surely rise, and in a considerable way". Correa said citizens would pull together after the disaster. "The Ecuadorian spirit knows how to move forward, and will know how to overcome these very difficult moments," he said. More than 2,500 people were injured in the disaster, which brought down housing blocks and air control towers, buckled bridges and cracked pavements. In the coastal town of Chamanga, authorities estimated that more than 90% of homes had been damaged. At least 100 of those killed in the quake were citizens of the regional capital Portoviejo. They included the Quinde family - a mother, father, teenage daughter and toddler son - killed when a four-storey hotel collapsed on their car. The Quindes were en route to drop off Sayira, 17, for her first term at university, where she had won a scholarship to study medicine. "I never thought my life would be destroyed in a minute," her aunt Johana Estupiñan told Associated Press. At a girls' school in Playa Prieta, six members of staff including a Northern Irish nun were killed as the building collapsed. Sister Clare, 33, from Derry, was a nun in the Home of the Mother order. Her family said they believed she had been trying to lead colleagues out of the school to safety when a stairwell collapsed. "She was trying to get them down the stairs and the staircase collapsed. We knew she was trapped but information has been slow to come out," her cousin Emmet Doyle said. "She died as she lived, helping others."
The biggest earthquake in Ecuador in decades has killed 272 people - but that toll will 'certainly' rise even further, the President has said as overwhelmed rescuers struggled to pull survivors out of the destruction. The 7.8-magnitude quake struck the small, oil-producing South American nation late Saturday, shattering hotels and homes along its Pacific coast popular with tourists and reducing several towns to rubble. More than 2,000 people were injured as structures tumbled during the quake or its dozens of aftershocks. The capital Quito, farther inland, escaped with cracked walls and power outages, and the country's strategic oil facilities appeared unscathed, officials said yesterday. But along the coast, the devastation prompted neighboring Colombia, as well as quake-experienced Mexico and El Salvador, to rush in rescue personnel to help out. In Portoviejo, a city 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the coast, the temblor knocked down walls in a prison, allowing 100 inmates to escape. Some were recaptured or returned later, but police were hunting the others, Justice Minister Ledy Zuniga tweeted. Elsewhere in hard-hit Portoviejo, the stench of decaying bodies began to fill the tropical air as rescuers raced to find survivors. "We have already recovered three dead and we believe there are 10 to 11 people still trapped," said one worker digging through the debris of what used to be a six-story hotel called El Gato. Officials have declared a state of emergency in the worst-hit provinces, and a national state of "exception," both of which suspend certain civil rights and liberties to allow security forces and officials to react faster. President Rafael Correa visited the disaster zone last Sunday, after cutting short an official trip to the Vatican and flying home. He said the latest toll of 272 dead "will certainly rise and probably in a considerable way" in the hours ahead. Among the worst-hit towns was Pedernales, where Mayor Gabriel Alcivar estimated there were up to 400 more dead yet to be confirmed, many under the rubble of hotels that collapsed. "Pedernales is devastated. Buildings have fallen down, especially hotels where there are lots of tourists staying. There are lots of dead bodies," he told local media. Soldiers patrolled the beach town, and the Red Cross and the army had set up a center to treat the injured and receive bodies. Two Canadians were among those killed by the quake, their country's government said.
Aid began to flow in Sunday to areas devastated by Ecuador's strongest earthquake in decades and the death toll continued to rise as people left homeless hunkered down for another night outside in the dark. Officials said the quake killed at least 246 people and injured more than 2,500 along Ecuador's coast. Vice President Jorge Glas said the toll was likely to rise because a large number of people remained unaccounted for, though he declined to say how many. Much damage was reported in the cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Guayaquil, which are all several hundred kilometers from the epicenter of the quake that struck shortly after nightfall Saturday. But the loss of life seemed to be far worse in isolated, smaller towns closed to the center of the earthquake. In Pedernales, a town of 40,000 near the epicenter, soldiers put up a field hospital in a stadium where hundreds of people prepared to sleep outside for a second straight night. Downed power cables snaked across the streets with no prospect of electricity being restored soon, making it unsafe for many to return to their homes. The town's mayor said looting broke out Saturday night amid the chaos but with the arrival of 14,000 police and soldiers to towns in the quake zone the situation appeared more under control. President Rafael Correa, who cut short a trip to Rome to oversee relief efforts, declared a national emergency and urged Ecuadoreans to stay strong. "Everything can be rebuilt, but what can't be rebuilt are human lives, and that's the most painful," he said in a telephone call to state TV before departing Rome for Manta. More than 3,000 packages of food and nearly 8,000 sleeping kits were being delivered Sunday. Ecuador's ally, Venezuela, and neighboring Colombia, where the quake was also felt, organized airlifts of humanitarian aid. The European Union, Spain, Peru and Mexico also pledged aid. Rescuers scrambled through ruins in the provincial capital Portoviejo, digging with their hands trying to find survivors. "For God's sake help me find my family," pleaded Manuel Quijije, 27, standing next to a wrecked building. He said his older brother, Junior, was trapped under a pile of twisted steel and concrete with two relatives. "We managed to see his arms and legs. They're his, they're buried, but the police kicked us out because they say there's a risk the rest of the building will collapse," Quijije said angrily as he looked on the ruins cordoned off by police. "We're not afraid. We're desperate. We want to pull out our family."

Electricity mostly remained out in Manabi province, the hardest-hit region, as authorities focused on finding survivors. "Compatriots: Unity, strength and prayer," the vice president told a throng of people in Manta as he instructed them on how to look for survivors. "We need to be quiet so we can hear. We can't use heavy machinery because it can be very tragic for those who are injured." On social media, Ecuadorians celebrated a video of a baby girl being pulled from beneath a collapsed home in Manta. But fear was also spreading of unrest after authorities announced that 180 prisoners from a jail near Portoviejo escaped amid the tumult after the quake. Shantytowns and cheaply constructed brick and concrete homes were reduced to rubble along the quake's path. In the coastal town of La Esmeralda, authorities estimated than 90 percent of homes had damage, while in Guayaquil a shopping center's roof fell down and a collapsed highway overpass crushed a car. In Manta, the airport closed after the control tower collapsed, injuring an air traffic control worker and a security guard. In the capital, Quito, terrified people fled into the streets as the quake shook buildings. One resident shot a video of his lamps and hanging houseplants swinging wildly for more than 30 seconds as the building rocked back and forth. The quake knocked out electricity in several neighborhoods and a few homes collapsed, but after a few hours power was being restored. Among those killed was the driver of a car crushed by an overpass that buckled in Guayaquil, the country's most populous city. Two Canadians were also among the dead. The city's international airport was briefly closed. The government said it would draw on $600 million in emergency funding from multilateral banks to rebuild. Hydroelectric dams and oil pipelines in the OPEC-member nation were shut down as a precautionary measure but there were no reports of damage to them. The U.S. Geological Survey originally put the quake at a magnitude of 7.4 then raised it to 7.8. It had a depth of 19 km (12 miles). More than 135 aftershocks followed, one as strong as magnitude-5.6, and authorities urged residents to brace for even stronger ones in the coming hours and days.
The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along its Pacific coast. President Rafael Correa said at least 233 people had died and rescuers were struggling to reach survivors trapped in the rubble. The magnitude-7.8 quake, the strongest to hit Ecuador since 1979, was centered on Ecuador's sparsely populated fishing ports and tourist beaches, 105 miles (170 kilometers) northwest of Quito, the capital. Correa reported the death toll on his official Twitter account while flying back from Rome to deal with the crisis. Officials earlier had reported more than 580 people injured. Vice President Jorge Glas said there were deaths in the cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Guayaquil - all several hundred kilometers (miles) from the center of the quake struck shortly after nightfall Saturday. In Pedernales, a town of 40,000 near the quake's epicenter, dozens of scared residents slept in the streets while men equipped with little more than car headlights tried to rescue survivors who could be heard trapped under rubble. "We're trying to do the most we can, but there's almost nothing we can do," said Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of Pedernales. Alcivar pleaded for authorities to send earth-moving machines and emergency rescue workers to help find people amid the rubble. He said looting had broken out amid the chaos but authorities were too busy trying to save lives to re-establish order. "This wasn't just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town," he said. Correa declared a national emergency and urged Ecuadoreans to stay strong while authorities handle the disaster. "Everything can be rebuilt, but what can't be rebuilt are human lives, and that's the most painful," he said in a telephone call to state TV before departing Rome straight for Manta. Glas said 10,000 armed forces had been deployed to help. In addition, 4,600 national police were sent to the towns near the epicenter. Officials said shelters had been set up and field hospitals were being deployed in Pedernales and Portoviejo. More than 3,000 packages of food and nearly 8,000 sleeping kits were being delivered. Electricity in Manabi province, the hardest hit, remained mostly down as authorities focused on finding survivors. "Compatriots: Unity, strength and prayer," Glas told a throng of residents gathered in the streets of Manta as he instructed them on how to look for survivors. "We need to be quiet so we can hear. We can't use heavy machinery because it can be very tragic for those who are injured." Homes were reduced to rubble along the quake's path, while in Guayaquil a shopping center's roof fell down and a collapsed highway overpass crushed a car. In Manta, the airport closed after the control tower collapsed, injuring an air traffic control worker and a security guard.
Ecuador was in a state of emergency Sunday after a powerful earthquake flattened buildings and ravaged towns along the nation's northwestern coast Saturday night. At least 77 people were killed and 588 were wounded, Vice President Jorge Glas said, after the magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck just before 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET). President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency, and said the tremblor was the strongest quake to hit Ecuador since 1979. "Our infinite love to the families of the dead," Correa said on Twitter, while cutting short a trip to Italy to return home. States of emergency were declared for the provinces of Esmeraldas, Los Rios, Manabi, Santa Elena, Guayas and Santo Domingo. The quake was strongly felt in country's capital of Quito, around 100 miles away. Glas said 10,000 military troops and 3,500 police have been dispatched to the affected areas. Meanwhile, the Home Ministry said five helicopters and over 80 buses were ferrying 4,000 police to the quake zone. Authorities said landslides were making it difficult for emergency workers to reach the towns hardest hit by the earthquake. "We're trying to do the most we can, but there's almost nothing we can do," said Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of Pedernales, a town of 40,000 near the quake's epicenter, according to the Associated Press. Alcivar pleaded for authorities to send earth-moving machines and emergency rescue workers as dozens of buildings in the town were flattened, trapping residents among the rubble. He said looting had broken out amid the chaos but authorities were too busy trying to save lives to re-establish order. "This wasn't just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town," he said.
The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along its Pacific coast, sending the Andean nation into a state of emergency. As rescue workers rushed in, officials said Sunday at least 77 people were killed, over 570 injured and the damage stretched for hundreds of miles to the capital and other major cities. The magnitude-7.8 quake was centered on Ecuador's sparsely populated fishing ports and tourist beaches, 170 kilometers (105 miles) northwest of Quito, the capital. Vice President Jorge Glas gave the updated death toll early Sunday at a press conference. Earlier, he said there were deaths in the cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Guayaquil - all several hundred kilometers (miles) from where the quake struck shortly after nightfall. He said the quake was the strongest to hit Ecuador since 1979 and accessing the disaster zone was difficult due to landslides. "We're trying to do the most we can, but there's almost nothing we can do," said Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of Pedernales, a town of 40,000 near the quake's epicenter. Alcivar pleaded for authorities to send earth-moving machines and emergency rescue workers as dozens of buildings in the town were flattened, trapping residents among the rubble. He said looting had broken out amid the chaos but authorities were too busy trying to save lives to re-establish order. "This wasn't just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town," he said. President Rafael Correa signed a decree declaring a national emergency and rushed home from a visit to Rome, urging Ecuadoreans to stay strong while authorities handle the disaster. Ecuador's Risk Management agency said 10,000 armed forces had been deployed to help. In addition, 3,500 national police were sent to the towns of Manabi, Esmeraldas and Guayas y Santa Elena; 500 firefighters were heading to Manabi and Pedernales and five shelters had been set up for those who had to evacuate their homes. On social media, photos circulated of homes reduced to rubble, a shopping center's roof torn apart, supermarket shelves shaking violently and a collapsed highway overpass that crushed a car. In Manta, the airport was closed after the control tower collapsed, injuring an air traffic control worker and a security guard. In the capital Quito, people fled into the streets in fear as the quake shook their buildings. It knocked out electricity in several neighborhoods and six homes collapsed but after a few hours, power was being restored, Quito's Mayor Mauricio Rodas said. "I'm in a state of panic," said Zoila Villena, one of many Quito residents who congregated in the streets. "My building moved a lot and things fell to the floor. Lots of neighbors were screaming and kids crying." Among those killed was the driver of a car crushed by an overpass that buckled in Guayaquil, the country's most populous city. The city's international airport was also briefly closed. Hydroelectric dams and oil pipelines in the OPEC-member nation were shut down as a precautionary measure but so far hadn't reported any damages. Towns near the epicenter were evacuated as a precautionary measure in case of hazardous tsunami waves but several hours later authorities said was safe for coastal residents to return to their homes. Sports events and concerts were cancelled until further notice nationwide. "It's very important that Ecuadoreans remain calm during this emergency," Glas said from Ecuador's national crisis room. The USGS originally put the quake at a magnitude of 7.4 then raised it to 7.8. It had a depth of 19 kilometers (12 miles). At least 36 aftershocks followed, one as strong as 6 on the Richter scale, and authorities urged residents to brace for even stronger ones in the coming hours and days.
At least 41 people have been killed by the powerful earthquake that struck western Ecuador on Saturday and the toll will likely rise further, the country's Vice President Jorge Glas said. "Sadly the information we currently have is that 41 citizens have lost their lives in this emergency... This death toll will unfortunately rise in the coming hours," Glas said in televised comments. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre also issued warning for the nearby Pacific coastline. "There is considerable (structural) damage in the area near the epicenter as well as points as far away as Guayaquil," Ecuador's Geophysical Office (IG) said. Media published photographs of a bridge and the roof of a shopping centre that collapsed in the port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador's most populous city on the Pacific coast. President Rafael Correa, on a visit to the Vatican, sent a message of support on Twitter. "Authorities are already out evaluating damage and taking action" as needed," he said. Glas earlier said on Twitter that a national emergency committee had been activated. With a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), the quake struck at 2358 GMT about 173 km west-northwest of Quito and just 28 kilometres south-southeast of Muisne, according to the US Geological Survey, which monitors earthquakes worldwide. "Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 kilometres of the earthquake epicenter," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Buildings swayed in Quito but authorities did not immediately report injuries or damage. The strong movement was felt in northern and southern parts of the Quito area, knocking out electricity in places. Cristina Duran, 45, grabbed her three pets and stood under a large doorway to avoid shards of glass falling from shattered windows. "I was frightened. And I just kept asking for it to be over," she told AFP. Aftershocks kept rattling the country, as structural damage was reported in the coastal provinces of Manabi and Guayas. At the Guayaquil airport passengers awaiting flights dashed out of terminals when they felt the shaking. "Lights fell down from the ceiling. People were running around in shock," said Luis Quimis, 30, who was waiting to catch a flight to Quito. In northern Quito, people ran out of their homes frightened, as power lines swayed back and forth and cables danced. "Oh, my God, it was the biggest and strongest earthquake I have felt in my whole life. It lasted a long time, and I was feeling dizzy. I couldn't walk. ... I wanted to run out into the street, but I couldn't," said Maria Torres, 60. In fact, two earthquakes jolted the same area just 11 minutes apart, the USGS said. The first had a magnitude of 4.8 and the second of 7.8. The earthquake also rattled northern Peru and southern Colombia, according to authorities in those countries, although no casualties were reported. Peruvian officials however urged coastal residents to stay away from the beach.