Navigation
Suscribe
Menu Search Facebook Twitter
Search Close
Menu ALL SECTIONS
  • Capital Coahuila
  • Capital Hidalgo
  • Capital Jalisco
  • Capital Morelos
  • Capital Oaxaca
  • Capital Puebla
  • Capital Quintana Roo
  • Capital Querétaro
  • Capital Veracruz
  • Capital México
  • Capital Michoacán
  • Capital Mujer
  • Reporte Índigo
  • Estadio Deportes
  • The News
  • Efekto
  • Diario DF
  • Capital Edo. de Méx.
  • Green TV
  • Revista Cambio
Radio Capital
Pirata FM
Capital Máxima
Capital FM
Digital
Prensa
Radio
TV
X
Newsletter
Facebook Twitter
X Welcome! Subscribe to our newsletter and receive news, data, statistical and exclusive promotions for subscribers
World

Hopes Fade of Finding Survivors from Ecuador Quake as Death Toll Nears 500

The 7.8 magnitude quake has hit the country's already weakened economy hard, causing billions in damages on top of human loss of life

A soldier walks past a collapsed building after an earthquake struck off the Pacific coast, in Pedernales, Ecuador, photo: Reuters/Henry Romero.
By Reuters Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
1 year ago

PEDERNALES, Ecuador – Rescuers in Ecuador were losing hope on Tuesday of finding more survivors from an earthquake that killed nearly 500 people and dealt a shattering blow to the South American OPEC country’s already fragile economy.

Praying for miracles, distraught family members beseeched rescue teams to find missing loved ones as they used dogs, bare hands and excavators to hunt through debris of flattened homes, hotels and stores in the hardest-hit Pacific coastal region.

The death toll stood at 480 on Tuesday afternoon but was expected to rise.

Rescue team members carry the body of a victim at a collapsed building in Pedernales. Photo: Reuters/Henry Romero.

Rescue team members carry the body of a victim at a collapsed building in Pedernales. Photo: Reuters/Henry Romero.

The 7.8 magnitude quake, which struck late Saturday, also left 107 people missing, and injured more than 4,000, according to the latest government tallies.

Supervising rescue work in the disaster zone, Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa said the quake inflicted between $2 billion and $3 billion of damage to the oil-dependent economy and could knock two to three percentage points off growth.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, it will be a long struggle … Reconstruction for years, billions (of dollars) in investment,” said Correa, who appeared deeply moved.

“In the short term we’re going to need tens of millions of dollars,” Correa added from the quake-hit town of Tarqui, donning a mask, gloves and helmet.

Growth in Ecuador’s small economy had already been forecast at near zero this year due to plunging oil revenues.

The quake, Ecuador’s worst in decades, destroyed or damaged about 1,500 buildings, triggered mudslides and left some 20,500 people sleeping in shelters, according to the government.

“FIND MY BROTHER!”

In Pedernales, a devastated rustic beach town, crowds gathered behind yellow tape to watch firemen and police sift through rubble overnight.

A woman looks at a pile of empty coffins at Maximino Puertas stadium in Pedernales, after an earthquake struck off Ecuador's Pacific coast. Photo: Reuters/Henry Romero.

A woman looks at a pile of empty coffins at Maximino Puertas stadium in Pedernales, after an earthquake struck off Ecuador’s Pacific coast. Photo: Reuters/Henry Romero.

The town’s soccer stadium served as a relief center and morgue. Some residents wore masks to protect themselves from the smell of bodies decomposing in the heat.

“Find my brother! Please!” shouted Manuel, 17, throwing his arms to the sky by a corner store where his younger brother was working when the quake struck.

When an onlooker said recovering a body would at least give him the comfort of burying his sibling, he yelled: “Don’t say that!”

Three priests said prayers and sprinkled holy water on bodies being hauled out of the debris of a small supermarket near Pedernales’ central square and church.

The corpses of two adults and one child had already been carried out on stretchers, and firemen, soldiers and police were still scouring for a missing child.

“My cousin said you could hear people yelling until yesterday,” said Tito Torres, 20, the son of the store’s owners, who rushed to Pedernales from Quito after the quake.

His parents managed to run out of the store before the roof partially collapsed. “This is terrible,” he said, adding survivors had been raiding the destroyed store for food.

Some 54 people had been rescued alive since Saturday, the government said, but time was running out for people with missing relatives. As of Tuesday, rescue efforts were more of a search for corpses, Interior Minister Jose Serrano told Reuters.

SMELL OF DEATH

In isolated villages and towns, survivors struggled without water, power or transport. Rescuers continued searching on Tuesday but the unmistakable smell of death told them what they were 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, adding that on Tuesday rescuers brought out as many as eight bodies.

In 1979 a magnitude 7.7 quake in Ecuador killed at least 600 people and injured 20,000, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

With presidential elections slated for next year, the government’s response was under close scrutiny.

Security forces and relief workers appeared to mobilize quickly and government officials were fast to reach scenes of disaster, but many survivors in isolated areas complained they still lacked water, food and medicines.

The mayor of Muisne island, closest to the epicenter of the quake, said all inhabitants had been evacuated to temporary shelters on the nearby mainland.

“We’ve lost everything we acquired with years of work. We feel completely abandoned,” he told local radio. “We need the government to relocate us.”

Nearly 400 rescue workers flew in from countries in Latin America, along with 83 specialists from Switzerland and Spain.

The United States said it would dispatch a team of disaster experts, while Cuba was sending doctors.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Correa on Tuesday “to convey the condolences of the American people for the loss of life caused by the earthquake,” the White House said.

To finance emergency efforts, some $600 million in credit from multilateral lenders was activated, Ecuador said.

Ecuador also on Monday signed off on a $2 billion credit line from the China Development Bank to finance public investment. Ecuador and China, the country’s main financier since 2009, had been negotiating the credit before the quake.

JULIA SYMMES COBB AND ANA ISABEL MARTÍNEZ

Comments Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
More From The News
Mexico

Mexico Quake Rescuers Race to Free Girl, ...

5 hours ago
World

Battle against I.S. in Raqqa is in 'Fina ...

5 hours ago
Mexico

Soft Soil Makes Mexico City Shake Like i ...

6 hours ago
Mexico

Mexican Red Cross Providing Assistance f ...

7 hours ago
Most Popular

7.1 Magnitude Quake Kills 139 as Buildui ...

By The Associated Press
Mexico

Mexicans Dig through Collapsed Buildings ...

By The Associated Press
Mexico

Rescuers Wriggle into Collapsed School a ...

By The Associated Press
Mexico

TUSGS Says Mexico Quake Magnitude 7.1

By The Associated Press
Mexico

Rescuers Continue Hope of Rescuing More ...

By Notimex
Mexico