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Death Toll From Ecuador Earthquake Passes 650

  • VOA News

A neighbor comforts Roberto Ganchoso is as he sits in what's left of his neighborhood, watching a bulldozer demolish a hotel next door in Pedernales, Ecuador, April 23, 2016. President Rafael Correa has said last week's earthquake caused $3 billion in damage.

A neighbor comforts Roberto Ganchoso is as he sits in what's left of his neighborhood, watching a bulldozer demolish a hotel next door in Pedernales, Ecuador, April 23, 2016. President Rafael Correa has said last week's earthquake caused $3 billion in damage.

The death toll from the devastating earthquake in Ecuador has risen to 654, officials said.

The quake, the worst in nearly seven decades, injured at least 12,500 people and left another 58 people missing along the country's Pacific coast.

“These have been sad days for the homeland,” said a visibly moved President Rafael Correa during his regular Saturday TV broadcast. “The country is in crisis.”

Thousands of soldiers and police have been deployed throughout Ecuador to provide emergency relief, including temporary shelters and food. In addition, scores of aid workers from dozens of nations, including Spain, Peru, Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela have arrived to assist in the relief efforts.

Officials said 113 people had been rescued alive from buildings damaged by the quake eight days ago.

The United Nations on Friday appealed for $72.7 million to provide aid to 350,000 people over the next three months — about half the number it estimates are in need of help.

UNICEF reports that the quake has affected at least 150,000 children, having damaged 119 schools.

Humanitarian organizations warn that the country still faces huge risks, as the homeless are now prey to disease-bearing mosquitoes and dirty drinking water.

Electricity and water supplies are only being slowly restored.

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