According to officials, the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck on Saturday night on Ecuador’s Pacific coast has killed over 400 people, more than 2,500 were injured and left countless people homeless. Families are concerned because they think they may be running out of time to find missing loved ones.
The coastal Manabi Province received the hardest hit, as a consequence nearly 200 people died in there, according to Ricardo Peñaherrera of Ecuador’s national emergency management office. The damage was widespread throughout the South American nation, but tourist destinations like Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales suffered the most.
“It was something very ugly. We thought it was the end of the world,” one survivor in Pedernales told CNN’s Gustavo Valdes on Monday.
It’s been really difficult for Ecuador to get supplies and rescue crews to the affected areas. According to what Peñaherrea told to CNN en Español, due the El Niño weather phenomenon, it’s been raining recently so highways and mountainous areas are in bad shape. He adds that the lack of water and communication are still big problems.
President Rafael Correa had to cut short his visit to a Vatican Conference because of Ecuador’s emergency. On Sunday night, he arrived in Portoviejo and toured the area.
“I have infinite gratitude to the spirit of the Ecuadorian people, of our firefighters, our soldiers, our policemen and all workers who haven’t slept, haven’t eaten as they work hard to save lives,” said Correa.
Ecuador’s priority right now is finding survivors
The death toll has now reached 350, but the search for survivor continues. In fact, even when reconstruction might take years and cost billions of dollars, no one is even thinking about it: the priority is finding as many survivors as possible.
Ecuador sent to the affected areas 10,000 soldiers and 4,600 police officers, the military brought in search dogs to help find survivors. Troops set up mobile hospitals and temporary shelters.
Locating pets is also a priority, said a police on a photo he posted on Twitter showing an officer pulling a dog out from a collapsed concrete building.
International aid poured into Ecuador Monday.
On Monday, international aid poured into Ecuador: Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Peru and other countries sent rescuers and aid. A €1 million was released in humanitarian aid to help victims of the Saturday evening quake, said on Monday the European Union.
The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, declared a state of emergency and said he expects the death toll to keep increasing considerably.