At least 233 people have been killed after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador’s north-western coast on Saturday night.
President Rafael Correa, who is returning from Italy today, confirmed the latest death toll via Twitter. Hundreds more were injured as the country’s most powerful earthquake in decades caused widespread damage to buildings.
The president declared a state of emergency, with some 10,000 military troops and 4,000 police aiding rescue efforts.
The coastal towns of Manta and Pedernales, both close to the epicentre, had suffered the worst damage, according to Correa.
“We’re trying to do the most we can, but there’s almost nothing we can do,” said Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of Pedernales, a town of 40,000 near the earthquake’s epicenter, according to the Associated Press.
Damage was also recorded hundreds of kilometres away, with one person killed after a bridge collapsed in the southern port city of Guayaquil.
“Our infinite love for the families of those who died,” said President Correa. “Thanks to the whole world for its solidarity.”