The most deadly earthquake to hit Ecuador in nearly two decades has left 238 dead, and leaders of the Andean nation cautioned on Sunday that the death toll could still rise.
The magnitude-7.8 earthquake, which also injured more than 1,500, struck Saturday night, toppling buildings, damaging roads and impacting cities hundreds of miles away from its epicenter near the small fishing village of
Muisne. More than 135 aftershocks have been felt, according to Ecuador’s seismological institute.
Rafael Correa, who was traveling abroad on official business, declared a national emergency and urged Ecuadoreans to stay strong.
“Everything can be rebuilt, but what can’t be rebuilt are human lives, and that’s the most painful,” he said in a phone call to state TV before departing Rome straight for the coastal Ecuador city of Manta.