Ecuador quake death toll reaches nearly 650

April 23, 2016 7:00 pm

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (C) talks with displaced earthquake victims lined up to get food aid in Manta, , on April 19, 2016. (AFP Photo)

The death toll from Ecuador’s massive earthquake last week has risen to 646 people, the president said Saturday.
President Rafael Correa announced the rise in number of deaths on TV, saying, “These have been sad days for the homeland.”
“The country is still in crisis.”
Last Saturday’s devastating 7.8 magnitude left around 12,500 people injured and scores more missing across the country.
More than 700 aftershocks and several strong tremors have continued to shake and scare the nation in the past days since the major quake hit Ecuador’s Pacific coast last Saturday.
“I have never seen anything like this, it’s been so bad,” said Alex Bachon, 43, a construction worker. 
The tremors are expected to continue for a couple more weeks.
Seven thousand buildings were destroyed by the seismic activity. More than 26,000 people have also been displaced seeking shelter in soccer stadiums, airports as well as other venues.
Survivors are receiving food, water and medicine from the government and scores of foreign aid workers.
The government has also mobilized thousands of members of the National Guard and the police to help in rescue operations and maintain order in quake-hit areas, with only sporadic looting reported.

This image shows rescue workers searching amid rubble caused by the devastating earthquake in the town of Pedernales on April 17, 2016. (AFP Photo)

The country’s private banking association has agreed to let its banks defer payments on credit cards, loans and mortgages for clients in the quake zone for three months to aid the victims.
The government said it would temporarily increase some taxes, offer assets for sale and possibly issue bonds to raise revenues to help reconstruct the damaged areas, estimated to be at a cost of $2 to $3 billion.
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