Ecuador quake death toll hits 413

Pedernales, one of Ecuadors worst-hit towns, on April 18, 2016 two days after a 7.8-magnitude quake hit the countryImage copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

Hundreds of people are feared to have died in the town of Pedernales

At least 413 people are now known to have died in the earthquake that struck Ecuador, the country’s government says.

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck Ecuador’s Pacific coast on Saturday, and the search for survivors continues.

The cost of rebuilding is likely to be in the billions of dollars, President Rafael Correa said during a visit to the worst-affected region.

He said it was the biggest tragedy to hit Ecuador in the past seven decades. Some 2,000 people were injured.

On Monday, funerals for some of those killed were held in Portoviejo and Pedernales, two towns that were badly hit.

“I fear that figure will go up because we keep on removing rubble,” a shaken Mr Correa said in a televised address. “There are signs of life in the rubble, and that is being prioritised.”

The president warned that the quake will cost Ecuador billions of dollars. It comes at a time when the oil-producing country is already reeling from the slump in global crude prices.

On Monday, Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, said some of the group’s rarely-used emergency funds would be unlocked and given to Ecuador to help it rebuild.

Media captionThe death toll is still expected to rise

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