Ecuador Quake: Death Toll Leaps To 272, Over 2,500 Injured


Quito: The death toll from the powerful earthquake that shook coastal Ecuador has risen to 272.

Vice Minister Diego Fuentes gave the latest number to reporters Sunday night as search teams continued to pick at rubble looking for survivors and victims.

Earlier, Vice President Jorge Glas said more than 2,500 people were injured in Saturday night’s earthquake.

Glas says there is a long list of missing people that authorities are looking for but he has declined to disclose the number. He says only that the number of casualties is expected to go up more.

President Correa declared a state of emergency and called on his country to be “calm and united”.

Vice President Jorge Glas said: “These are very difficult moments.

“We have information that there are injured people who are trapped (under rubble) in different districts and we are getting ready to rescue them,” media quoted him.

Saturday’s quake was reported to be Ecuador’s biggest since 1979. More than 130 aftershocks have followed.

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at a fairly shallow depth of 19.2 km, about 27 km from Muisne in a sparsely populated area.

The quake was also felt in Colombia, where patients in a clinic in Cali city were evacuated from the building.

In Ecuador, helicopters and buses ferrying troops have been hampered by landslides.

People were using their bare hands to try to dig out survivors in some areas.

Food and other essential items were handed out, with aid also coming from Venezuela and Mexico.

Widespread damage has been reported, with a bridge destroyed in Guayaquil about 300 km away.

Gabriel Alcivar, the mayor of Pedernales, which is close to the epicentre, said the “entire town” was flattened.

“We are trying to do the most we can but there is almost nothing we can do,” he said, adding that incidents of looting have been reported.

In Manta, one of the badly hit areas, a woman survivor said: “The third floor collapsed on top of us. They are all there, my family, my sister, my children. They are all there, there are a lot of people. My god, may help arrive.”

Cristian Ibarra Santillan was in capital Quito when the quake struck.

“There had been some small tremors going on for about two or three months and I thought it was one of those but after about 20-30 seconds it started to get really strong,” he told reporters.

“And I grabbed my dog and I hid under the table. But then I realised that it wasn’t going away so I just ran with him outside.”