Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Rescuers race to find survivors from Ecuador's big quake

Published:Wednesday | April 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A mourner is revived with spalashes of water, before family members head to a nearby cemetery to bury their loved ones who were victims of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, in Portoviejo, Ecuador, Monday.
A family wake up after sleeping outside their collapsed home, destroyed by an earthquake in Manta, Ecuador, yesterday.


Rescuers are in a race against time to find survivors from a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake as the death toll from Ecuador's strongest earthquake in decades has risen above 400.

On Monday, teams from Ecuador and neighbouring countries fanned out across the country's Pacific coastline to look for the dozens of people still missing.

In the port city of Manta, a group of about 50 rescuers working with sniffer dogs, hydraulic jacks and a drill managed to free eight people trapped for more than 32 hours in the rubble of a shopping centre that was flattened by Saturday night's quake.

The first rescue took place before dawn, when a woman was pulled headfirst from a nearly 21/2-foot (70-centimetre) hole cut through concrete and steel. Firefighters applauded as she emerged from the debris, disoriented, caked in dust and complaining of pain but otherwise in good health.

Another uplifting scene played out in nearby Portoviejo, where a cellphone call to a relative from under the debris of a collapsed hotel led searchers to Pablo Cordova, the hotel's administrator. Once he was gingerly removed, he was immobilised and hauled away on a stretcher, his hands waving in the air in a sign of appreciation to cheering onlookers.

"Since Saturday, when this country started shaking, I've slept only two hours and haven't stopped working," said Juan Carranza, one of the firefighters leading the rescue effort in Portoviejo.