The death toll from a massive earthquake in Ecuador has risen rose to 350, as rescuers continue to pull bodies from flattened buildings.
Officials fear the death toll could continue to rise from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which struck Ecuador’s northwest coast late Saturday.
“Many people remain buried under the rubble,” according to Ecuadorian Red Cross spokesman Diego Castellanos who says the death toll is likely to rise.
“I cannot say by how much [the death toll] will increase but I am afraid it will,” Castellanos told VOA by telephone from the capital, Quito.
More than 2,500 people were injured when the 7.8-magnitude quake struck Ecuador’s northwest coast late Saturday.
The cities of Manta, Portoviejo, and the tourist city of Pedernales were among the worst affected, though damage was widespread throughout the country.
Thousands of soldiers and police have been deployed, and have begun providing temporary shelters, though many have spent two nights camped outside next to their flattened homes.[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]
Rescue workers are bringing first aid and emergency supplies to the worst affected areas, but Castellanos says some of the areas are hard to reach.
In some of the most remote areas, people clawed through the rubble with their bare hands, desperately searching for survivors, before equipment arrived.
“By road it is very difficult [to reach] because in some places the roads were very badly damaged by the earthquake,” Castellanos said. “It is difficult, but we are doing it.”
Hundreds of aftershocks have followed, and authorities warn many could be severe. Most of the aftershocks Monday were ranging from 3.1 to 5.7-magnitude, according to the Twitter page of Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute.
President Rafael Correa, who cut short a visit to Italy to oversee relief efforts, visited the disaster area Sunday. He said the death toll “will certainly rise and probably in a considerable way” as rescuers continue to search through the rubble.
Correa said it is the worst natural disaster Ecuador has experienced since a 1949 earthquake in Ambato that killed thousands.
Source: VOA [xyz-ihs snippet=”Adversal-468×60″]