Powerful earthquake kills 77 in Ecuador

Updated: 2016-04-17 15:36


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Powerful earthquake kills 77 in Ecuador

People stand next to the debris of a building after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck off the country's northwest Pacific coast causing "considerable damage", in Manta, Ecuador, April 16, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and cut short a trip to the Vatican to coordinate the rescue efforts.

"Everything can be rebuilt, but lost lives cannot be recovered, and that's what hurts the most," he told Ecuador's state television channel from Rome. "The material part is the least important, what is fundamental is guaranteeing human life."

Parts of the capital were without power or telephone service for several hours, though the city government said that services were quickly restored and that there were no reports of casualties in the city.

The government described it as the worst quake in the country since 1979, when 600 people were killed and 20,000 injured, according to the United States Geological Survey.