Rescue efforts intensify in Ecuador as death toll climbs to 350
Xinhua, April 19, 2016 Adjust font size:
Rescue teams in Ecuador intensified efforts on Monday to rescue people and find bodies trapped in the rubble caused by Saturday night's 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which has left at least 350 people dead and 2,068 injured.
Image provided by Public News Agency of Ecuador and South America ANDES shows people organizing relief supplies to be transported to the affected areas by the earthquake in a collecion center installed at the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES, for its acronym in Spanish), in the city of Quito, Ecuador, on April 18, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]
Two days after the devastating disaster, soldiers, firefighters and police units assisted rescue teams to find those still alive with help of trained dogs.
The epicenter of the earthquake, the strongest in the country since 1979, was located between the northern coastal provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas.
Rescue efforts were primarily focused on the towns of Pedernales, Manta, Portoviejo and Tarqui, all in Manabi, where international rescue crews were needed to step up efforts.
The country's Security Minister, Cesar Navas, told the Ecuavisa TV station that living people were still being rescued in Manta, without giving a number.
"Rescue teams are working tirelessly to find people, we have not lost hope to find more alive," he said, adding that teams from Venezuela and Colombia had already arrived and that help from Peru, Chile, Mexico and other countries was on the way.
Rescuer Angel Moreira, head of the Manta firefighter department, told the press that four people had been found in recent hours, although one later died.
President Rafael Correa, who was visiting Portoviejo, Manabi's provincial capital, said that open-air shelters had been deployed to care for those having lost their houses.
"We are not far over 24 hours from the disaster, these people want to sleep outside," Correa told the press in Portoviejo.
Hundreds of people were currently sleeping outside in squares and streets, due to fears of more aftershocks in coastal areas.
Much of Manabi province was still without water and power.
"The problem is that many cables have fallen. This can be dangerous and we cannot provide energy everywhere. Water treatment plants are also without power, which means there is no water. We are facing a serious problem," Correa said.