- Death toll rises to above 400 after Ecuador quake
- President says emphasis still on search and rescue
- Rebuilding to cost billions of dollars
The US has become the latest country to send a team of disaster experts to help Ecuador following Saturday’s earthquake (April 16).
In the meantime Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has been offering comfort to survivors At least 413 people are now thought to have died with that number expected to rise significantly.
In Pedernales, close to the epicentre, as many as 400 people alone are feared dead. One witness said the “entire town” had been flattened. “Buildings have fallen down, especially hotels where there are lots of tourists staying. There are lots of dead bodies.”
However, President Correa stressed his gratitude to international offers of help:
“We should feel proud of our rescuers, also for our Latin American brothers who have helped us: Venezuelans, Colombians, many other countries. I insist, the priority is that where there are signs of life. There are some neighbours who have complained that there is a body and why is it not taken. That’s because the priority is to target resources to where there are stills signs of life,” said Correa.
The President also said the cost of rebuilding is likely to be in the billions of dollars. He described the earthquake as the biggest tragedy to hit Ecuador in the past seven decades. Alon with those who’ve died some 2,500 people have been injured.
The 7.8 quake ripped apart buildings and roads and knocked out power along Ecuador’s Pacific coastline.
Shaken Ecuadorians lining up for food and blankets, have been sleeping in the rubble of their destroyed homes or in the street.
As rescue efforts continue, survivors are becoming evermore desperate . With lack of power and water in some areas there are complaints that aid has still not reached some of the worst hit communities.