At least 233 people have been killed in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador’s Pacific coast.
“The official figure of the number killed has risen to 233,” President Rafael Correa said on his Twitter account. Officials had previously put the toll of yesterday’s quake at 77 dead and nearly 600 injured.
Correa, who is flying back from a trip to Italy, has decreed a state of emergency.
He said: “This is a very painful test. I ask the country to be calm and united… Let’s be strong; we will overcome this. Roads and hospitals can be rebuilt; you cannot recover lost lives. That’s what hurts the most.”
According to BBC, Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of the town of Pedernales, which is close to the epicentre, said that the administration was trying to do the most “we can but there’s almost nothing we can do.”
He said dozens of buildings had been flattened and looting had broken out.
“This wasn’t just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town,” Mr Alcivar said.
Carla Peralto, a resident of Boyaca, one of the worst-affected areas, told the BBC: “I never felt something like that in my life. It was so strong. I was feeling very, very scared… I was thinking ‘God, please stop that because maybe I die today’.”