Emergency personnel respond to damage after an earthquake, in Cuenca, Ecuador, on Saturday. Photo by Robert Puglla/EPA-EFE
March 19 (UPI) — The death toll from Saturday’s 6.8-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador continues to rise with at least 16 people reported dead.
The Government of Ecuador announced the latest details on the deadly earthquake that occurred six miles from the Ecuadorian city of Baláo in the provinces of El Oro, Guayas and Azuay on Saturday afternoon.
Officials said that one victim in Azuay was inside their vehicle when a wall fell on it killing them and that three of the victims in El Oro were killed by a security tower that fell down. Another three died in Santa Rosa.
At least 11 people died in El Oro and one in the province of Azuay, CNN reported.
“They are not alone, we understand the anguish that this has generated for the Ecuadorian family,” President Guillermo Lasso said of the victims and their families in a statement.
“I want to share with you that the government is with them and that they are working quickly and effectively to attend to them.”
Lasso said the government will make resources from all of its ministries including health, transportation and public works available to assess the damage. Among the damage to public and private buildings there is damage to 14 schools and the Teófilo Dávila Hospital in El Oro.
Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat said in a statement that structural damage in Machala, Baláo, Santa Rosa, Cuenca and more. Multiple people were trapped inside a building that collapsed in Baláo. The office did not state whether they were rescued.
The U.S. Geological Survey classifies Baláo, Naranjal, Machala, Puerto Bolivar, Pasaje and Santa Rosa in an orange alert which indicates potential “shaking-related” fatalities.
Events of this level have required regional and national-level responses in the past, according to the agency. These cities have an estimated combined population of more than 337,000 people.