Four Canadians among hundreds killed in Ecuador quake
Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 3:47 PM - Hundreds of people have been killed in Ecuador after a powerful Magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck off the Andean nation's coast.
The death toll was raised to at least 413 people with more than 2,500 injuries. More casualties are possible as rescuers penetrate the worst-affected regions.
On Tuesday, International Development Minister confirmed Marie-Claude Bibeau confirmed 4 Canadians were killed in the quake.
At this time, the government is not providing further details due to privacy concerns.
So far, Canadians Jennifer Mawn and her son, Arthur Laflamme, were killed after the roof of their residence caved in when the earthquake struck.
The scope of the devastation in Ecuador is shocking. My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, including 2 Canadians.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 17, 2016
The quake struck offshore of a relatively sparsely populated part of the country. Though the tsunami threat passed quickly, the shaking was felt further away in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, as well as the busy port and commercial centre of Guayaquil, and a national emergency has been declared.
While tsunami alerts were issued and later lifted, coastal regions were still urged to seek higher ground.
"We're trying to do the most we can but there's almost nothing we can do," Gabriel Alcivar, the mayor of Pedernales, near the epicenter, told the Associated Press. "This wasn't just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town."
Social media was flooded with images of destruction in the country's cities. In Guayaquil, a bridge collapsed with a car beneath it, with at least one body recovered according to CNN. Numerous other structures have been reported either damaged or destroyed.
"It was terrifying, we were all scared and we're still out in the streets because we're worried about aftershocks ... everything is damaged," Guayaquil security guard Fernando Garcia told Reuters.
Mobile operators in the country waived text message charges so that people could check on loved ones. Around 10,000 troops and 3,500 police officers have been deployed to help in rescues and keep order, amid reports of looting in some cities near the epicentre.
An airport tower was reported collapsed, and an oil refinery has been shut down as a precaution. Several hospitals evacuated patients outdoors for fear of further collapses.
In rural areas, Ecuadorian media have tweeted images of landslides threatening roads.
More than 135 aftershocks were reported by Ecuador's seismological Institute, with at least one as strong as Magnitude 5.6. Officials say the quake was the strongest to hit the country since 1979. That disaster killed 600 people and injured 20,000.
Ecuador's quake came on the heels of two back-to-back temblors that struck southern Japan, killing more than 20 people. Planetary geosciences professor David Rothery told the Guardian that Ecuador's quake was around 20 times stronger than the tremor that hit Japan early Saturday morning.
Rothery said though the Ecuador quake was deeper than the Japan tremor, damage and loss of life was larger in Ecuador possibly due to "less stringent" building codes.
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