Ecuador quake toll rises to 655

Quito, April 25 (IANS/EFE) The toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador on April 16 has risen to 655, the National Risk Management Secretariat said on Monday.

A total of 29,067 people are still being housed in shelters and 48 others are listed as missing, the secretariat said.

Medical personnel treated 17,638 people in connection with the temblor, one of the most powerful to ever hit the Andean nation, the secretariat said.

Rescue teams pulled 113 people alive from the rubble, according to the secretariat. It said hundreds of buildings were destroyed in the earthquake.

The government has declared a state of emergency in Esmeraldas, Manabi, Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Guayas, Santa Elena and Los Rios provinces.

The other provinces in Ecuador are on a state of alert and President Rafael Correa has declared eight days of national mourning over the weekend.

Officials are working to restore basic services to improve living conditions for people in the disaster zone, with reconstruction planning already underway.

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