Death toll near doubles - 142 dead, 588 injured says vice president
Ecuadorian vice president Jorge Glas has told a press conference at least 142 people have been killed and 588 injured as a result of the earthquake, local media are reporting.
The new toll almost doubles the previous figure given by authorities a few hours ago, which was 77. More than 260 buildings have also been destroyed, the vice president said.
Glas, who is leading the response in the absence of president Rafael Correa, said the government had activated a $300m emergency fun to help victims and rescue efforts.
Mobile phone operators have suspended charges for text messages, to make it easier for people to contact loved ones.
An Ecuadorian journalist has been tweeting pictures of the landslides on the roads near the epicentre of the quake. Authorities have said they are having difficulty reaching some of the more remote areas close to the heart of the impact, and bringing in machinery for rescue efforts.
The UK Foreign Office has issued this travel advice for Ecuador. Its website also gives out numbers for people concerned about family members.
If you are in Ecuador you are advised to follow the advice of the Ecuadorean National Risk Control Agency and the Seismic Monitoring Agency.The Vice President has declared a state of emergency in six provinces on the coast (Esmereldas, Los Rios, Manabi, Santa Elena, Guayas and Santo Domingo).There are reports of fatalities in Portoviejo, Manta and Guayaquil. There are blackouts in many parts of the country and the coast.
Simon Gordon, who lives in Guayaquil, has been speaking to the BBC about his experiences during the quake.
My first ever experience of an earthquake and I’m just relieved that my wife and family are all OK. RIP to all those who passed. What an absolute tragedy.I can tell you, that was an extremely scary experience. I live in Guayaquil and we got hit pretty hard. Cities around us have been affected so badly.
In an address in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis has offered prayers for the people of Ecuador affected by the violent earthquake overnight, as well as the victims in Japan on Friday.
Pope Francis during the Regina Coeli prayer in the Saint Peter’s square Photograph: Giorgio Onorati/EPAMay the help of God and of their brothers give them strength and support.
Ecuador's 7.1 earthquake - what we know so far
- At least 77 people have been killed and more than 570 people are believed to have been injured in the quake, the most powerful in decade.
- The earthquake struck at about 8pm local time at a depth of 12.4 miles (20km).
- At least 50 aftershocks have followed, one as strong as six on the Richter scale.
- President Rafael Correa has declared a national emergency and urged the country’s 16 million people to stay calm. He has cut short a visit to Italy and the Vatican to return to Ecuador and is expected to arrive on Sunday afternoon, local time.
- 10,000 troops have been deployed to the coastal areas, with specialist earthquake rescue teams coming in from Colombia and Mexico.
- About 3,500 extra national police officers have been sent to the towns of Manabí, Esmeraldas and Guayas y Santa Elena, and 500 firefighters have been sent to Manabi and Pedernales.
- Residents who left coastal towns because of the risk of a tsunami have been told they can return home. The epicentre of the quake, around the coast, is sparsely populated, and is mainly tourist beaches and fishing villages.
- The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has said the “tsunami threat from this earthquake has now mostly passed”.
- Fears are growing for residents in the more remote regions around the epicentre of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake. Authorities in Ecuador say landslides are making it difficult for emergency workers to reach the towns hardest hit.
- More than 6,000 miles across the Pacific, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck south-east of the Pacific island nation of Tonga. Both quakes follow a 7.3-magnitude tremor that struck Japan’s Kumamoto province early on Saturday, killing at least 32 people, injuring about 1,000 and causing widespread damage, in the second major quake to hit the island of Kyushu in just over 24 hours. The first, late on Thursday, killed nine.
- Ecuador’s earthquake has been described as six times stronger than the one which hit Japan a day previously, releasing 20 times as much energy.
Ecuador's earthquake 'six times stronger than Saturday's quake'
Ecuador’s earthquake has been described as six times stronger than the one which hit Japan a day previously, in which more than 30 people died, releasing 20 times as much energy.
David Rothery, a professor of planetary geosciences at The Open University, northeast of London, said about 20 magnitude-7 earthquakes occur every year across the globe.
There is no causal relationship between the earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan.
Rothery told AP the quake in Ecuador began deeper underground than the recent Japan quakes, but a greater loss of life could be attributed to Ecuador’s less stringent construction codes for buildings and bridges.
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