This Article is From Apr 21, 2016

New Earthquake Rattles Jittery Ecuador

New Earthquake Rattles Jittery Ecuador

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Ecuador.

Pedernales, Ecuador: A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Ecuador on Wednesday, sowing new panic four days after a powerful quake killed more than 525 people and left hundreds missing.

The shallow quake hit just off the coastal town of Muisne in northwestern Ecuador. No new damage or casualties were immediately reported, AFP journalists in the region said.

But it jolted nerves anew, as rescue workers continued pulling bodies from the rubble of Saturday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake, Ecuador's worst in nearly 40 years.

The death toll from that quake crossed a new threshold as officials reported 525 deaths in the western province of Manabi alone. There were at least two more in the southwestern province of Guayas.

The previous toll given by officials was 480 deaths and 1,700 missing.

Officials warned the death toll was likely to continue rising as emergency workers untangled the masses of rubble, often by hand or with basic tools.

At least 11 foreigners were killed in Saturday's quake, which struck a coastal region popular with tourists. They included citizens of Britain, Canada, Ireland and several Latin American countries.

Ecuadoran authorities called the latest quake an aftershock.

The US Geological Survey said it struck at 0833 GMT at a depth of 16 kilometers (10 miles).

'Losing Hope'

Sniffer dogs and mechanical diggers were busy at work in the wreckage of coastal towns such as Pedernales and Manta, as the stench of rotting bodies grew stronger in the tropical heat.

Hope of finding more victims alive was fading fast.

One of the bodies pulled from the ruins was that of six-year-old Jose David Eras, a Colombian-Ecuadoran boy trapped beneath the rubble of a hotel in Pedernales -- one of around 800 structures toppled in the quake.

Both countries had been on tenterhooks awaiting news of his fate after rescue workers detected signs of life in the debris using a special scanner.

But the Colombian foreign ministry said that his lifeless body had been found.

Pope Francis sent Ecuadorans a message of solidarity, his second since Saturday's quake.

"I want to express our closeness and our prayers to our Ecuadoran brothers," he said during his general audience on Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Relatives of the missing have voiced frustration with the pace of the rescue operation.

"Ecuador is not prepared for such a catastrophe," said 27-year-old Samantha Herrera, one of two young women with eyes red from crying who were wandering around near a ruined hotel.
"My brother Irvin is under there," she said. "The firefighters only arrived this morning."

'Thousands Homeless'

President Rafael Correa handed out food and water in the disaster zone Tuesday, saying he was "exhausted" but vowing to get aid and supplies to victims and rescue workers.

"It is very hard, but we are moving forward," he told AFP in Manta, which resembled a war zone.

Each family received a blue plastic bag with three liters of water, canned tuna, milk, pasta and rice.

Hundreds of emergency workers from Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Spain and other countries were helping overwhelmed Ecuadoran officials.

Some 4,600 people were injured in the quake, according to government figures.

Fears rose for thousands of people left homeless, prey to disease-bearing mosquitoes and dirty drinking water.

In Pedernales a football stadium was serving as a makeshift morgue, as well as a medical and distribution center.
But not everyone was able to get help.

"We came here to ask for food but they've already handed out the supplies," Gema Guillen, a mother of three, told AFP.
The family lost their home in the quake and was now sleeping on the ground, she said.

"There are no tents for people who have been left with no roof over their heads. We need them," said Joffre Gordon, an air force officer leading emergency operations from a base in Manta.

The Inter-American Development Bank announced it would extend Ecuador an emergency loan of up to $300 million.

Correa said rebuilding would cost up to $3 billion and could take two or three years.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)