The Latest: Death toll rises to 507 from Ecuador earthquake

AP News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2016 8:29 PM
The Latest: Death toll rises to 507 from Ecuador earthquake

MANTA, Ecuador (AP) — The latest on the deadly earthquake in Ecuador (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

Ecuadorean authorities say the death toll from the weekend earthquake has risen to 507.

The Attorney General's Office says 499 of the dead have been identified so far and returned to loved ones.

It says 11 foreigners were among those killed.

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7:20 p.m.

The devastation caused by Ecuador's earthquake is being felt in the newsroom of one of the South American country's oldest newspapers.

For the first time in its 82-year history, El Diario wasn't able to publish Sunday after electricity and Internet servers were knocked out of service by heavy damage in its newsroom in Portoviejo.

The paper managed to resume circulation Monday, aided by power generators and the dedication of its staff spread across Manabi province, which is the hardest hit by the earthquake. Some employees traveled for hours to personally deliver photos of the devastation on pen drives.

Even so, El Diario was able to publish only half its normal 40 pages.

Editor Jaime Ugalde says the paper's news staff is still working with computers with screens cracked during the quake.

Ugalde adds: "Our goal is still to reach our public, in all corners of Manabi."

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4:35 p.m.

The official death toll from Ecuador's most-powerful earthquake in decades has risen to 480.

Deputy Interior Minister Diego Fuentes also says that 2,000 people had been reported as missing to a government registry created to track casualties. But it's not clear if all of those people remain unaccounted for.

Earlier Tuesday, Ecuador's Defense Ministry said 231 people were missing.

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3:15 p.m.

Mexican authorities are trying to quash rumors that a powerfully destructive earthquake supposedly has been predicted to strike the country.

The rumors began spreading on social media after the Saturday night quake in Ecuador that killed at least 433 people. The rumors said there had been predictions that a quake of up to magnitude 8.6 was imminent in Mexico.

At least one message in circulation cited the country's National Seismological Service and the National Autonomous University of Mexico as the purported sources of the alert. But the Seismological Service posted a scrolling, ticker-like notice on its website Tuesday assuring Mexicans that the agency "is NOT issuing any seismic alert."

It linked to information explaining that quakes cannot be predicted.

In 1985, a magnitude-8.0 quake near the Mexican coast caused hundreds of buildings in the capital to collapse and killed at least 9,500 people.

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2:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the United States will do everything it can to support Ecuador as it recovers from the devastating earthquake.

Obama spoke by phone with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa on Tuesday. The White House says Obama offered condolences on behalf of the American people for lives lost and that the two leaders discussed U.S. government assistance to support earthquake victims.

The White House says that Correa thanked Americans for helping during the difficult recovery period.

The call comes as Ecuador's government says the death toll is now at least 433, with another 4,027 injured.

Obama called the Ecuadorian leader shortly before departing on a trip to Saudi Arabia and Europe.

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1:25 p.m.

Ecuador's government has updated its death toll for the weekend's magnitude-7.8 earthquake. It now says at least 433 people have died.

The Defense Ministry also gave an estimate of the missing for the first time, putting that number at 231. That means the death toll is likely to rise in the coming days.

Another 4,027 people are injured.

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12:35 p.m.

While the human tragedy of Ecuador's most-powerful earthquake in decades is still sinking in, the government is just beginning to evaluate the monumental task of rebuilding.

President Rafael Correa says it could cost as much as $3 billion to rebuild. That's about 3 percent of Ecuador's gross domestic product.

He told reporters Tuesday: "It's going to be a long battle."

The problem is Ecuador doesn't have the extra money. Prices for its commodities have been falling of late on lower demand from China.

Ecuador's growth last year was stagnant. And even before the earthquake, the International Monetary Fund was forecasting its economy would shrink by around 4.5 percent in 2016. Oil is Ecuador's largest export and cover 35 percent of the government budget.

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12:15 p.m.

Ecuador's foreign minister says at least nine foreigners are among the 413 dead from the country's earthquake.

Guillaume Long tells state-run Gamavision that a citizen of Great Britain, two Canadians, three Cubans, two Colombians and a person from the Dominican Republic are on the official list of those reported dead.

He did not count an American citizen who the State Department Monday said was also killed.

Long said the list of foreigners is likely to rise because the epicenter of the magnitude-7.8 quake is an area of laid-back, pristine beaches popular with foreign tourists and expats.

10:25 a.m.

The U.S. is deploying disaster experts to Ecuador and sending $100,000 in supplies as the country grapples with tens of thousands of people displaced by Saturday's earthquake.

The U.S. Agency for International Development announced Tuesday that it was joining the effort to help survivors of Saturday's magnitude-7.8 earthquake in the South American country. Teams from Mexico, Switzerland, Colombia, Venezuela and other countries are already in place.

The agency says U.S. workers will help analyze the situation on the ground and work to meet humanitarian needs.

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4:50 a.m.

A nun from Northern Ireland killed in the Ecuador earthquake has been remembered as a "superstar" by her family.

A Roman Catholic religious order says Sister Clare Theresa Crockett was leading a group of young trainee nuns to safety at a school where she worked when a stairwell collapsed. She and five of the young postulants died. Three injured nuns were rescued from the rubble.

Crockett, who was 33 and from Londonderry, taught music at the Colegio Sagrada Familia school in Playa Prieta.

The order of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother said Crockett and other nuns had been working to help residents hit by heavy local flooding when the earthquake struck on Saturday.

The order said in a statement that "Sister Clare had spent nearly 15 years of her life in consecration to the Lord. She was a generous Sister with a special gift for reaching out to children and young people."

Crockett's cousin Emmet Doyle said: "She was a superstar. Everybody loved her."

"She died as she lived, helping others."

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3:30 a.m.

Ecuador's foreign minister says more international rescuers are heading to the country's disaster zone of flattened buildings to help in the race against time to find survivors from a powerful magnitude-7.8 earthquake

Guillaume Long tweeted that 654 search experts from other nations were on the ground late Monday and that more were expected to arrive Tuesday — bringing to 13 the nationalities involved in the rescue.

The government reported Monday that the official death count had increased to 413 and was expected to rise further in the days ahead. Among the dead were an American and two Canadians.

Complicating rescue efforts is the lack of electricity in many areas, meaning noisy power generators must be used, making it harder to hear people who might be trapped beneath rubble.

More than 2,000 people were injured.

Spain's Red Cross said as many as 5,000 people might need temporary housing because of destroyed homes and 100,000 need some sort of aid.