Just three days after the massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador, which resulted in the deaths of over 500 people, the survivors had another scary moment when a fresh 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit the region on Wednesday morning. According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the fresh earthquake, one of the biggest aftershocks since the main earthquake, had its epicenter nearly 15 miles west of the coastal town of Muisine. The epicenter is located nearly 133 miles away from the capital of Ecuador, Quito. The earthquake took place at around 3 a.m. local time, the Independent reports.
Prelim M6.1 earthquake near the coast of Ecuador Apr-20 08:33 UTC, updates https://t.co/1txHYstLRw
— USGS Big Quakes (@USGSBigQuakes) April 20, 2016
While the region did face several aftershocks after the main 7.8-magnitude earthquake, the previous largest one was measured at a magnitude of 5.7. So far, there have been no reports of any major damage taking place following this new aftershock. Damage caused by the new earthquake, if any, would only come to light once day breaks in Ecuador.
Meanwhile, Ecuadorian officials have confirmed that the death toll from the Saturday earthquake has risen to at least 525 people, up from a previous official toll of 507. This has been confirmed by officials from the country’s National Prosecutor’s Office. Officials, however, cautioned that the count would still rise further given that they are expecting to find even more bodies that remain trapped underneath the rubble and debris. The number of people missing after the earthquake has risen to more than 200 individuals, with many of them feared dead. Among the dead also include at least 11 foreigners. Only 15 people remain unidentified.
One striking story was of earthquake survivor Pablo Cordova, who was a hotel worker in the town of Portoviejo. Pablo was trapped under the hotel rubble and remained there for more than 36 hours. He survived by drinking his own urine and had his cellphone with him. However, he was unable to use it, as the earthquake had conked off the telecommunications system in the region. He was hopeful that the service would be restored before the phone’s battery died. To his luck, the service was restored, and he was able to call his wife, who had almost given up any hopes of finding him alive. He was pulled from the rubble alive soon after he made that all-important call. Cordova’s wife even bought a coffin and had started plans to organize his funeral.
“I will have to give that coffin back because I still have a long way to go before I die,” Pablo said.
The Defense Minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño on Tuesday termed the earthquake the worst tragedy faced by the country in the last 60 years.
“It’s the worst tragedy in 60 years.We’re facing the most difficult phase right now, which is rescuing victims and recovering bodies,” he added.
Meanwhile, somber, heart-wrenching scenes were played out across the worst hit regions of Ecuador where the survivors began to bury those who were killed in the Saturday earthquake. While several survivors are hopeful they would find their missing relatives alive, the hopes of the same happening are fading with each passing hour.
Two children who were killed along with their mother in the small town of Montecristi, near the port city of Manta, were also buried on Tuesday. The family was out shopping for school supplies when the earthquake struck. Several family members were seen wailing loudly as the bodies of the family were lowered into the grave. The funeral had to be held outside under a makeshift awning because the local church was structurally damaged and was deemed unsafe to go in following the earthquake.
According to reports, the whole of Ecuador remains in shock as the nation struggles to cope with the tragedy. Funeral homes say they are running out of coffins because of the high number of casualties. The government has confirmed that they are working with local government bodies to make more caskets available to bury the dead.
[Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP Images]