In a statement on Sunday the Vice President of Ecuador, Jorge Glas, announced that the death toll from the nation’s worst earthquake in almost 40 years has risen to 235 (Update: 413). Reports suggest that the number of injured could be as high as 1,500 (Update: 2,527).

The 7.8 magnitude quake struck off the northwestern pacific coast, with nearby coastal towns of Manta and Pedernales suffering the worst of the damage. Other nearby towns were immediately evacuated following a tsunami warning, residents were told they could return after the warning was lifted late on Saturday.

10,000 troops and another 3,500 police personnel have been deployed to affected area to help with rescue efforts, though landslides have been impeding road access to more remote regions.

Venezuela and Mexico have both already pledged nearly $600 million in funding to rebuild the cities which have been devastated. Reports of structural damage all across the nation’s west, with reports of a bridge collapsing in the south, 300 kilometres away from the epicentre.

President Rafael Correa made clear that the current priority is rescuing survivors, building and bridges can be rebuilt later. According to an expert, the quake was 6 times stronger than the most powerful one to recently hit Japan’s Southern Islands.

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