Update: Ecuador earthquake deaths toll rises to 350

    Update: Ecuador earthquake deaths toll rises to 350

    April 18, Quito: At least 350 people have been confirmed dead and more than 1,500 people injured after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador on Saturday evening.

    Some 10,000 troops and 3,500 police are being deployed in the affected areas, as rescue operations continue.

    Coastal areas in the north-west were closest to the epicentre and officials say the death toll is likely to rise as information begins to come in.

    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. In some areas people are using their bare hands to try to dig out survivors.

    Food and other essentials has been handed out and international aid is also beginning to arrive, with the first coming from Venezuela and Mexico, media reports said.

    Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of Pedernales, close to the epicentre, said the "entire town" had been flattened.

    Widespread damage is reported, with a bridge destroyed as far south as Guayaquil about 300km (190 miles) away.

    The Oslo Times


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