Death toll in Ecuador quake tops 500
20 April 2016, 23:15
Quito - The death toll from the powerful earthquake that shook Ecuador on Saturday has risen to at least 525, officials said on Wednesday.
The toll increased by 45 people as emergency workers continued pulling bodies from the rubble in the western province of Manabi, officials said.
Earlier tolls had also included deaths in the southwestern province of Guayas, meaning that the overall toll is even higher - and likely to continue rising, with hundreds of people still missing.
Still reeling from the weekend disaster, the country has been hit by another earthquake.
The epicentre of the 6.1-magnitude quake, which struck off the coast of Ecuador, was located 25km west of Muisne and 73km west-southwest of Propicia, the US Geological Survey said.
Authorities in Quito called the latest earthquake an aftershock. No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
Meanwhile, sniffer dogs and mechanical diggers were busy at work in the wreckage of coastal towns such as Pedernales and Manta as the stench of rotting bodies grew stronger under the baking sun.
International rescuers and aid groups rushed to help victims as searchers dug for families trapped in the debris of homes, hotels and businesses.
"We have 2 000 people listed that are being looked for, but we have so far found 300," Deputy Interior Minister Diego Fuentes told reporters in the capital Quito.
About 4 605 people were injured, according to the latest government figures.
In a glimmer of good news as he toured the affected areas, President Rafael Correa said 54 people had been rescued alive from the rubble.
Still, hope of finding more victims alive was fading fast as the crucial three-day mark was reached late on Tuesday.