After a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Ecuador on Saturday, President Rafael Correa warned the death toll could continue to rise. Reuters reports that 272 people have already been discovered dead, and over 2,000 people have been injured as rescuers continue to search for survivors.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake was shallow and likely not related to Japan’s recent earthquake, which also hit Saturday. It was the country’s largest earthquake since 1979, and around 230 aftershocks followed. The quake was felt as far afield as Colombia.
The president said there was evidence people were still alive beneath the rubble, and many stricken family members searched for their loved ones with bare hands. Others gathered together to watch as emergency personnel searched through the debris. The president said one of the country’s top priorities is searching for those who may still be buried.
The country is in a state of emergency with 10,000 soldiers and 3,500 police officers dispatched to contend with the earthquake’s aftermath. Power was cut off along the coast, and a major oil refinery was temporarily shut in the event of further destruction. Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of the coastal town of Pedernales, said, “We’re trying to do the most we can but there’s almost nothing we can do.”
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