The human cost of last weekend’s earthquake in Ecuador continues to mount. On Wednesday the number of people confirmed to have died stood at 570.
In the devastated coastal town of Pedernales an elderly man sat weeping in his doorway. Maximo Palermo, of Italian origin, retired to live in the house which is now in ruins, but he says he will stay.
More people were killed here than in any other town when the tremor of magnitude 7.8 struck.
The authorities have been handing out food but survivors say they don’t have enough to eat or drink.
Many are contemplating rebuilding their lives.
“This won’t happen in days, weeks or months. This will take years, and sadly, we have to survive with what charitable people give us,” said local resident Richard Delgado.
Thousands of people have been forced to seek emergency shelter. Ecuador’s worst quake in decades has prompted the government to announce temporary tax increases.
In a televised address to the nation, President Rafael Correa said there would be several one-year tax rises.
“(There’ll be) a one-off tax of three percent on profits and a one-off tax of 0.9 percent on individuals with assets of over one million dollars. We’re also imposing the contribution of one day’s salary on those of us who earn over 1,000 dollars a month,” he said.
The country will also sell assets and may issue new bonds on the international market to fund the multi-million dollar reconstruction.
The president has estimated that the disaster has inflicted damage costing two to three billion dollars and could knock two to three percentage points off the country’s growth.