Ecuador Earthquake: Victims Identified And First Stories Arise As Death Toll Reaches 413

As the death toll from the devastating Ecuador earthquake reaches 413 — and is predicted only to rise — names of the Ecuador earthquake victims are being identified and the first stories arise now from the rubble of the 7.8 magnitude quake on Friday night. CNN reports that the death toll has risen to 413 according to an announcement by Ecuador government officials on Monday night, and those hundreds of victims of the deadly earthquake are gradually being identified as bodies are pulled from the wreckage of collapsed urban centers. As those earthquake victims are identified, with the stench of rotting bodies beginning to permeate the tropical air in worst-hit areas like Perdernales, their stories of horror and tragedy have begun to reach screens around the world.

The victims’ stories paint a terrifying picture of the scale of destruction caused by the Ecuador earthquake.

The earthquake is the worst to have hit Ecuador since 1987, when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake destroyed extensive infrastructure and killed 1,000 people. Current estimates put the number of injured from the Ecuador earthquake between 2,000 and 3,000, and the death toll is now known to exceed 400 with rescues of survivors becoming increasingly scarce. Locals of the areas worst hit by the Ecuador earthquake cannot escape thoughts or images of the disaster; the tropical air of paradise-like destinations such as Perdernales have begun to wreak of death as hundreds more are known to be buried within the extensive rubble.

According to CNN, the coastal Ecuador province of Manabi, where at least 200 people died, was the hardest-hit area by the earthquake. National Emergency Management office of Ecuador official Ricardo Peñaherrera told CNN that the tourist destination cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Perdernales saw the most widespread and thorough damage throughout Ecuador.

Relatives mourn over the coffin containing the remains of 26-year-old Valentina Arteaga, a victim of the Ecuador earthquake. Ecuador Earthquake victims identified as stories arise and death toll reaches 413 (Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP)
Relatives mourn over the coffin containing the remains of 26-year-old Valentina Arteaga, a victim of the Ecuador earthquake. (Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP)

As Ecuador earthquake victims were identified and the first stories arise as death toll reached 413, AFP spoke with distraught 24-year-old mother of two, Veronica Paladines, who was desperately searching for her husband in the earthquake debris of what used to be a hotel.

“My husband is under there,” she said, tearfully, to AFP, explaining that he worked at the hotel as a painter.”He had just gone down to rest a bit when it happened.”

Two Canadian nationals are also among the Ecuador earthquake victims identified; the stories of their last moments have been told to a Montreal radio station by shocked and grieving relatives. Quebec native Pascal Laflamme and his wife Jennifer Mawn, a neuropsychiatrist who had founded a clinic for children and teens, had moved to Ecuador with their son recently. Guy Laflamme, Pascal’s uncle, was chatting to Pascal on FaceTime when the roof of their Ecuador residence collapsed, cutting off their conversation amid the gut-wrenching sounds of screeching metal and crashing concrete of the earthquake.

“Pascal shouted, ‘get out! get out!’ and all communication was cut off,” reported Montreal 98.5FM radio station of their conversation with Guy. “Jennifer Mawn, and their son, Arthur Laflamme, were among the hundreds reported dead after the roof of a residence collapsed on them.”

A boy cries as he finds out that their sister was killed in an earthquake in Pedernales, Ecuador. Ecuador earthquake victims identified as stories arise and death toll reaches 413 (Photo by Dolores Ochoa/AP)
A boy cries as he finds out that their sister was killed in the earthquake in Pedernales, Ecuador. (Photo by Dolores Ochoa/AP)

Ecuador President Rafael Correa, who returned from a trip to the Vatican immediately after the Ecuador earthquake, urges his people to be strong and promises Ecuador will rebuild and recover from the earthquake. AP reports that Correa believes hundreds of additional deceased earthquake victims may lie beneath the rubble from “the biggest tragedy in the last 67 years.” AP noted that Correa was referring to an August 1949 earthquake near central Ecuador city of Ambato, which claimed the lives of 5,000 people.

AP also reported that multiple foreigners were among the Ecuador earthquake victims identified.

“Foreigners killed by the quake include two Canadians and five Colombians, officials said. A Catholic missionary nun from Northern Ireland was killed along with three trainee nuns at a school,” reported AP of the known victims of the Ecuador earthquake.

Global media awaits additional reports, as more Ecuador earthquake victims are identified, their stories arise, and the death toll reaches 413.

[Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP]