Tourism Centers Largely Intact as Death Toll Rises After 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake in Ecuador
PHOTO: Quito at night, via Thinkstock.
Following Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake along the pacific coast of Ecuador, the death toll has risen to 350 Monday, with at least another 2,068 people suffering injuries during the natural disaster.
According to Reuters, Ecuador President Rafael Correa returned to the country from a trip to Italy following the disaster and immediately began organizing emergency efforts throughout the impacted areas.
Correa spoke to those impacted by the earthquake and media representatives in Portoviejo, one of the cities hit hardest by the natural disaster. There the president announced that officials believe the death toll will continue to rise as search efforts continue.
Most of the recorded deaths occurred in the province of Manabi in cities such as Portoviejo, Pedernales and Manta. In Pedernales, the local sports arena was turned into a makeshift first-aid station, food and water dispensary and even a morgue.
A major problem since the initial destruction has been a series of around 230 aftershocks that have caused even more destruction to collapsing buildings and further rattled survivors. To give people in Portoviejo a place to get away from the destruction, the former Reales Tamarindos Airport tarmac was used as a temporary camp for about 400 residents, according to NBCNews.com.
While there have been no confirmed deaths of any American citizens in the country, Reuters is reporting that two Canadians were killed. Jennifer Mawn, 38, and her 12-year-old son, Arthur, were killed when the roof of the building they were stay in collapsed.
In the Ecuador capital of Quito, officials are reporting minimal damage from the earthquake and only 16 people have been evacuated to municipal shelters. The city’s airport, Mariscal Sucre International Airport, is fully operational and is bracing for an influx of flights with emergency materials and personnel.
From a travel perspective, the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism released the following statement:
“The Ministry of Tourism can report that the tourism infrastructure located in areas not significantly affected by the earthquake, such as the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos; including all airports, accommodations, tour operation and ground transport remain open and fully operational and catering to tourists.”
All airports and ground transportation in the Andean region, including the cities of Quito, Latacunga, Cuenca, Loja and Tulcan, are fully operation and were spared damage. Quito officials are evaluating damage to the city's cultural and historical center.
The port city of Guayaquil reported damage to roads, streets and bridges, but its airport and hotels remain open and fully functional. Transit is limited in the city as the damage is fully assessed.
The Galapagos Island, located nearly 900 miles from the mainland, have not been impacted by the quake or any aftershocks.
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