Shaken Ecuador hunts for survivors amid 7.8 quake debris
Updated: 2016-04-18 13:44
Firemen work after an earthquake struck off Ecuador's Pacific coast, at Tarqui neighborhood in Manta April 17, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
About 230 aftershocks have rattled survivors, who huddled in the streets, worried the flow of tremors could topple their already cracked homes.
"We're scared of being in the house," said Yamil Faran, 47, surrounded by some 30 people in the middle of a street in the city of Portoviejo. "When this improves and the aftershocks stop we're going to see if we can repair it."
Some 130 inmates in Portoviejo took advantage of the quake's destruction and chaos to climb over the collapsed walls of the low-security El Rodeo prison. More than 35 prisoners had been recaptured, authorities said on Sunday night.
About 13,500 security personnel were mobilized to keep order. Beyond a handful of unconfirmed reports of theft and looting, the country appeared calm.
Some $600 million in credit from multilateral lenders was immediately activated for the emergency, the government said.
Domestic aid funds were being set up and Venezuela, Chile and Mexico were sending personnel and supplies. The Ecuadorean Red Cross mobilized more than 800 volunteers and staff and medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said it was sending a team from Colombia.
Two Canadians were among the dead. Jennifer Mawn, 38, and her 12-year-old son Arthur, died when the roof of their coastal residence collapsed.
Residents on the Galapagos islands far off Ecuador's coast and home to numerous rare species, said they had not been affected.
The tremor followed two large and deadly quakes that struck Japan since Thursday. Both countries are located on the seismically active "Ring of Fire" that circles the Pacific, but according to the US Geological Survey large quakes separated by such distances would probably not be related.
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