Earthquake strikes Ecuador leaving a rising death toll

10,000 troops and 3,500 police are aiding affected areas this weekend after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the north west coastal areas. As of 10:00pm EST, at least 246 people have been confirmed dead.

A state of emergency was declared by President Rafael Correa, who ended his trip in Italy shorty after the breaking news. It is likely the death toll will continue to rise as aid is provided.

Landslides are preventing aid, such as helicopters and buses, in some areas as people are trapped under rubble and debris. Reports have said that machinery hasn’t been used due to the negative affect it may have on those injured beneath the rubble, possibly causing more harm or injury.

Some towns near or close to the epicenter, such as the city of Perdernales, have been entirely flattened in result of the tremendous earthquake.

Some have said they felt tremors prior to the quake. Witness Cristian Ibarra Santillan was in Quito at the time of the earthquake. He told the BBC that “there had been some small tremors going on for about two or three months and I thought it was one of those but after about 20, 30 seconds it started to get really strong.”

Columbia and surrounding areas also felt the tremors that struck this weekend. It’s the largest earthquake since 1979 for Ecuador.

International aid is beginning to flow in from neighboring countries, such as Columbia and Mexico. Food and supplies are among the items being brought. Reports are saying that the earthquake was six-times as strong as the quake that struck Japan earlier.

“Everything can be rebuilt, but lives cannot be recovered, and that’s what hurts the most,” President Rafael Correa said.

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