QUITO, Ecuador, April 19 (UPI) — Search and rescue teams in Ecuador are escalating efforts to find survivors as fears the death toll from the recent 7.8-magnitude earthquake could continue to grow.
At least 413 people died in Saturday’s earthquake and another 2,500 were injured.
Vinicio Alvarado, head of Ecuador’s labor department, warned that volunteers attempting to help may also become endangered if they are not properly supplied and supported.
More than 13,500 emergency workers have already been deployed; about 400 have come from neighboring South American countries.
Countries that have sent rescuers and aid include Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela and Peru. The United Nations said it was preparing a major aid drop-off, and the European Union said it released more than $1 million in humanitarian aid to help those affected.
About 200 people died in coastal Manabi province, the most affected area. Six of Ecuador’s 24 provinces are under a state of emergency.
Aftershocks have been felt in Ecuador for days. One aftershock measured 5.1 magnitude.
Ecuador’s interior ministry has closed nightclubs in affected areas and the national soccer federation has suspended the Ecuadorian championship tournament until further notice.
Rebuilding after the devastating earthquake will cost billions of dollars, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said this week. Alvarado said his agency will gather a “package of economic measures” to properly bring relief to affected areas.