Death toll reaches 500 in Ecuador quake amid search for missing

More than 500 people were confirmed killed in Ecuador's most powerful earthquake in decades, officials said late Tuesday, as rescuers were searching for the missing amid widespread destruction.

A total of 525 bodies were recovered, of which 518 were identified, the Attorney General's office said.

There are at least 11 foreigners among the dead: three Colombians, three Cubans, two Canadians, as well as one victim from the Dominican Republic, Britain and Ireland.

More than 4,600 were injured, and more than 100 still missing, the National Risk Management Agency (SNGR) said. The coastal province of Manabi was hit hardest, accounting for nearly all of the casualties.

More than 20,000 people have fled their homes since the 7.8-magnitude quake struck late Saturday on the Pacific Coast of northern Ecuador, according to SNGR.

President Rafael Correa estimated reconstruction could cost billions of dollars and take "months, years."

Some have been pulled alive from the rubble, raising hopes of survivors even as the rescue effort approached its fourth day.

A man in the provincial capital of Portoviejo was located after 40 hours trapped under a collapsed hotel thanks to his mobile phone.

But another five people were killed when the building crumbled.

The US development agency USAID said Tuesday it had deployed a team of disaster experts to Ecuador and provided an initial 100,000 dollars for critical supplies. The European Union deployed its own disaster experts and pledged an initial 1 million euros to help.

The United Nations' World Food Programme said Monday it had sent a convoy with enough food to feed 8,000 people for 15 days.

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said 13 countries were providing aid to the recovery efforts, and 654 international experts were helping on the ground.

Last update: Wed, 20/04/2016 - 11:38
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