A magnitude-6.1 aftershock Wednesday set babies crying and sent nervous residents pouring into the streets, fearful of yet more damage following the deadly natural disaster over the weekend.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor was centered offshore, 15 miles west of Muisne, at 3:33 a.m. local time (4:33 a.m. ET). No new damage or casualties were immediately reported, AFP journalists in the region said.
A carpenter who declined to give his name was among the legions trying to fetch a few belongings from their ruined homes, despite the heavily damaged roads.
At least 570 people were killed and around 163 people were officially reported missing following the 7.8-magnitude quake, which struck the country on Saturday and left much of its infrastructure in ruins.
That was near the epicentre of Saturday’s 7.8 quake, which devastated a long swath of the coast and dealt a major blow to the oil-producing nation’s already fragile economy.
Three days after the powerful 7.8-magnitude quake struck Ecuador’s Pacific coast in a zone popular with tourists, 480 people are known to have died, the government said. A state of emergency had been declared nationwide. Natural disaster survivor Pablo Rafael Cordova Canizares smiles as he rests at the Verdi Cevallos Balda hospital in Portoviejo, Ecuador, Monday, April 18, 2016.
Electricity and water supplies are only being slowly restored.
Many businesses up and down the coast have closed their shutters, fearing looters – which has made it all the more hard to find food and basic necessities. But visitors may be put off by health warnings from the quake zone.
Reconstruction costs are likely to be huge at a time when the oil-producing country is already reeling from the slump in global crude prices.
During a nationally televised address on Wednesday night, the president also announced some short-term tax changes to help Ecuador recover.
Anyone whose assets exceed $1-million will have to pay a one-time contribution of 0.9 percent of their wealth, Correa added. He is also drawing on 600 million dollars (£420m) in emergency credits from the World Bank and other multilateral lenders.
Relatives of the missing have voiced frustration with the pace of the rescue operation.
“At this point, we are now managing decomposing bodies”, he said. It left some 20,500 people sleeping in shelters, according to the government. “They say there are 10 of them in a cavity”, he said.
Hope of finding more victims alive was fading fast as the crucial three-day mark came and went late on Tuesday.
The South American country had only recently aired a Super Bowl commercial touting its beaches, islands and other charms – the first country ever to buy the American football championship’s notoriously expensive ad airtime.
“We are anxious about what comes next, how to rebuild and what to do so people can keep their jobs and prevent this from becoming a social crisis”, said Jose Ochoa, head of the Ecuador Hotels Federation.