Shaken Ecuador hunts for survivors amid 7.8 quake debris

Updated: 2016-04-18 13:44


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Shaken Ecuador hunts for survivors amid 7.8 quake debris

A flattened taxi is seen under the debris of a collapsed hotel as heavy machinery works at the site, after an earthquake struck off the Pacific coast, in Portoviejo, Ecuador, April 17, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

PEDERNALES, Ecuador - Traumatized Ecuadoreans slept amid rubble while rescuers dug for survivors on Monday after an earthquake smashed the Andean nation's coastal region, killing at least 272 people and flattening resort towns.

Saturday's 7.8 magnitude quake ripped apart buildings and roads, knocked out power, and injured at least 2,068 people in the largely poor Andean country.

In the devastated beach town of Pedernales, shaken survivors curled up for the night on mattresses or plastic chairs next to the rubble of their homes. Soldiers and police patrolled the hot, dark streets while pockets of rescue workers plowed on.

Late on Sunday, firefighters entered a partially destroyed house to search for three children and a man apparently trapped inside, as a crowd of 40 gathered in the darkness to watch.

"My little cousins are inside, before there were noises, screams. We must find them," pleaded Isaac, 18, as the firemen combed the debris.

Tents sprung up in the town's still-intact stadium to store bodies, treat the injured, and distribute water, food, and blankets to survivors. People wandered around with bruised limbs and bandaged cuts, while patients with more serious injuries were evacuated to hospitals.

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