Ecuador earthquake death toll climbs to 480, survivors found

Quito, April 20 (IANS) The death toll from April 16 earthquake in Ecuador rose to 480 by Tuesday morning, Vice Interior Minister Diego Fuentes said.

Around 4,027 people were injured and 231 missing, the vice interior minister was cited by local daily El Telegrafo as saying, Xinhua reported.

The report added that 20,503 people remain in shelters, while 805 buildings were completely destroyed and another 608 damaged, according to a preliminary count.

The earthquake was centered around the northwestern province of Manabi, which has seen the brunt of the death toll. Pedernales, the most affected city, has registered 131 deaths so far, the provincial capital of Portoviejo has counted 115, while the tourist port of Manta has 112.

Some good news broke the gloom on Tuesday as three people were found alive in the rubble of a building in Manta, according to Ecuador’s firefighter chief.

Commander Ebber Arroyo told the press in Quito that rescue workers had labored for hours to move rubble from the remains of a residential building before they succeeded in saving the three early Tuesday.

“We found three people alive, at around 4:30 a.m., and we will continue trying to work to find people in the same condition,” said Arroyo.

The survivors, two women and a man, were immediately taken to hospital for medical care.

President Rafael Correa is expected to visit the town of Mant, as well as the villages of Chone, San Vicente and Bahia de Caraquez.

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