Pedernales | Rescuers and desperate families clawed through rubble, pulling out survivors two days after an earthquake that killed at least 413 people and devastated a tourist region of Ecuador. Tearful relatives grabbed chunks of debris with their bare hands as they joined in the search for their loved ones along with stretched firefighting teams and mechanical diggers.
Among the stories of survival, authorities reported that one person was found alive today afternoon under the rubble of the El Gato hotel in Portoviejo. Local media reported that a girl was rescued from the ruins of a building after being trapped for 20 hours in the hard-hit town of Pedernales, at the center of the quake. Firefighters said on Twitter they pulled out three other survivors from rubble in the town of Manta.
The government raised the death toll of the 7.8-magnitude quake in the South American nation to 413. We are counting 413 people dead at present, the country’s Security Ministry said today, updating the count from 350 earlier in the day. At that time authorities said more than 2,000 people were injured.
Foreign countries and organizations dispatched rescue teams to help search and medical units treat the injured, saying tens of thousands would need aid. Rebuilding the destroyed areas will probably cost billions of dollars, President Rafael Correa said during a visit to Pedernales. Along the Pacific coast, in the towns of Pedernales, Manta and Portoviejo, the stench of rotting bodies filled the tropical air among heaps of rubble and twisted metal. Rescuers with sniffer dogs roamed the wreckage. My husband is under there, said Veronica Paladines, 24, tearing at a mound of debris that used to be a hotel in Manta, with tears flooding down her cheeks.
Her 25-year-old spouse, Javier Sangucho, the father of their two young children, worked at the property as a painter. He had just gone down to rest a bit when it happened, his wife told AFP. A similar scene unfolded in Pedernales, where Laura Taco stood in front of the Royal Hotel, where her sister-in-law and niece were buried by the earthquake. We are desperate, but hopes are not lost, there are signs that beneath the rubble that people are alive, she said.