Earthquake death toll up to 272


Death toll in the Saturday’s powerful earthquake in Ecuador has risen to 272. More than 2,500 people are reported injured.

The latest figures were given by the country’s Vice Interior Minister Diego Fuentes. Initial reports indicate heavy damage in the coastal city of Manta. Rescue crews struggled to get to sparsely populated fishing ports and tourist beaches.

The city of Pedernales, home to more than 40,000 people in Manabí Province, is destroyed. Some 10,000 troops and 3,500 police have been deployed in the affected areas, as rescue operations continue.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has cut short a visit to Italy to deal with the crisis. He has declared a state of emergency and said the priority is finding survivors. Helicopters and buses are ferrying troops north but have been hampered by landslides. Food and other essentials has been handed out and international aid is also beginning to arrive.

“The lack of water and communication remains a big problem. Many highways are in bad shape, especially in the mountainous area because it has been raining recently due to (the) El Nino weather phenomenon,” Ricardo Penaherrera of Ecuador’s national emergency management office told CNN en Espanol.

The 7.8 magnitude quake struck South American country of Ecuador on Saturday evening. Coastal areas in the north-west were closest to the epicentre. Officials say, the death toll is likely to rise as information begins to come in.