Ecuador earthquake death toll rises to 272

Rescuers pulled survivors from rubble on Sunday after the strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along its Pacific coast.

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.

Latest updates (all times IST)

12.10 p.m.: Ecuador’s president says the earthquake death toll in country has risen to at least 272 and is sure to go much higher.

After visiting areas hard hit by the quake, Rafael Correa gave the new count to reporters early Monday and said it would “surely rise, and in a considerable way.”

Correa says Ecuador will overcome the tragedy.

9.30 a.m.: Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is back in his home country and is making his first public comments about the strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades. He says the priority remains finding survivors.

Correa cut short a trip to the Vatican and flew directly to one of the hardest-hit area along Ecuador’s Pacific coast to oversee relief operations.

In an address from the tragedy-stricken city of Portoviejo, he says the death toll will probably rise considerably from the current 262 in the coming days. But he stresses that there’s evidence some people remain alive underneath rubble.

In Correa’s words, “The pain is very large, the tragedy is very large, but we’ll find the way to move forward. If our pain is immense, still larger is the spirt of our people.”

7.45 a.m.: The death toll from the powerful earthquake that shook coastal Ecuador has risen to 262.

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.

5.40 a.m.: Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has rushed back from an overseas trip and is getting briefed on relief efforts after a powerful earthquake rocked a coastal area of the South American nation.

Correa was in Rome when the 7.8-magnitude quake struck Saturday night, causing heavy damage. He had attended a conference at the Vatican a day earlier.

The presidential office released photos showing he flew in Ecuador’s presidential plane directly to the city of Manta on the coast. He is being briefed at the airport and is expected to make his first statements on Ecuadorean soil soon.

The death toll from Ecuador’s powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake continues to rise, with 246 people now confirmed dead.

Vice President Jorge Glas further says that more than 2,500 are injured.

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.

Earlier on Sunday, Pope Francis has offered prayers for the people of Ecuador affected by the violent earthquake overnight “that caused numerous victims and great damage.”

Francis asked the faithful in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to pray for those suffering in the aftermath of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake, as well as those hit by a separate magnitude-7.0 tremor in Japan early Saturday.

Ecuador’s earthquake is about six times stronger and has released more energy than the one in Japan a day before.

David Rothery, a professor of planetary geosciences at The Open University, northeast of London, says the total energy released by the earthquake in Ecuador was “probably about 20 times greater” than the magnitude-7.0 quake in Japan.

Rothery told The Associated Press on Sunday that bigger quakes last longer, so both the strength of the shaking and the duration contribute to the total energy.

Rothery says the quake in Ecuador began deeper underground than the recent Japan quakes, which would have lessened the shaking on the ground. But the greater loss of life and greater damage in Ecuador can be attributed to the country’s less stringent construction codes.

The scientist also says “there is no causal relationship between the earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan.”

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 2:22:43 PM |

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