QUITO: The number of victims of the devastating earthquake that jolted Ecuador has risen to 246 dead and 2,527 injured, Vice President Jorge Glas said on Sunday, speaking from the town of Pedernales.
At a live press conference earlier in the day, Glas said the priority was to continue searching for survivors trapped in the rubble and to help the injured in the Saturday earthquake, which has generated at least 189 aftershocks of various strength, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
Ecuador, who has declared a state of emergency in six provinces, has mobilised around 14,000 army and public security personnel to affected areas.
On Sunday afternoon, 20 hours after the quake, a young girl was rescued alive from the rubble of a building in Pedernales, one of the worst-affected cities.
Her father, Emanuel Sisa, said this meant four members of his family had been saved but five others had died.
On Sunday, Glas visited the affected cities of Manta, Pedernales and Portoviejo, in the northeastern province of Manabi, which has been difficult to reach due to damaged highways.
“We are facing logistical difficulties,” said Glas, noting that specialised rescue teams have reached the worst-hit zones with technologies and supplies.
In Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, which saw a number of casualties and infrastructure damage, the focus is on re-opening the city to traffic, with tunnels re-opening and energy companies switching energy plants and refineries back on.
The city also secured eight municipal shelters as safe zones for people to gather in, should big aftershocks happen.
International humanitarian aid also began arriving, with the U.S. and Mexico sending teams, and the Ecuadorian community in Spain beginning a donations drive to send home.
The government has tapped up to 300 million U.S. dollars for rescue and rebuilding efforts.