How Much Damage Did The Ecuador Earthquake Cause? An "Entire Town" Has Collapsed, One Mayor Says
In the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Ecuador, scenes of intense devastation have arisen. A car crushed under the massive weight of a cement overpass, multi-story buildings now a jumble of debris and rubble, long fissures forming on stretches of buckled roads and highways. On Saturday, a powerful earthquake in Ecuador caused widespread damage to cities, towns, and villages across the Andean nation with officials reporting more than 230 people dead and well over a thousand more injured.
Ecuador's coastal areas appear to have been most heavily affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which struck offshore roughly 17 miles from the northern town of Muisne at around 7 p.m. local time Saturday. Although the quake's impact was felt in areas hundreds of miles away from the epicenter, some of the most devastating scenes of damage to emerge from Ecuador have come out of Pedernales, a tourist town of 40,000 nestled along the coast just south of Muisne.
Officials in Pedernales reported the town had been almost completely flattened as more than 150 aftershocks continued to rock the region. "We're trying to do the most we can, but there's almost nothing we can do," said Pedernales' mayor Gabriel Alcivar, reported by NBC News. "This wasn't just a house that collapsed. It was an entire town," Alcivar continued, describing damage to the town as "catastrophic." With electricity and telephone services in the town cut, many residents were forced to sleep on the streets after their homes had collapsed in the quake as workers continued through the dark night to dig amongst the rubble for survivors.
In Ecuador's largest city, Guayaquil, an overpass collapsed in the quake, falling on top of a car, killing the driver and injuring a passenger. Residents in the city reported windows shattering and pieces of debris falling from roofs during Saturday's tremor. The airport in the coastal city of Manta was closed after its control tower crumbled in the quake, injuring two people, the Associated Press reported. Landslides were hindering rescue workers' efforts to reach more remote areas of the country's coastline Sunday. Photos and videos shared on various social media networks showed extensive damage to buildings, bridges, and roads as residents worked alongside rescuers to help those trapped.
Ecuador's president said he planned to draw from the nation's $300 million emergency reserves to fund rescue and relief efforts, The Telegraph reported. It is not clear yet how costly the damage from Saturday's quake truly is.
State officials reported Ecuador's oil production — the nation is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) — was not affected by the quake but that a principal refinery in Esmeraldas had halted production as a precaution, Reuters reported.
The physical damage left behind by Saturday's deadly earthquake is undoubtedly devastating and will likely take the country years to fully rebuild and recover. The situation was put into perspective best, however, by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in a telephone interview with state TV Sunday. "Everything can be rebuilt, but what can't be rebuilt are human lives, and that's the most painful."