Ecuador earthquake death toll rises to 553

Ecuador earthquake
Residents look at a rift in the highway created by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, in Chacras, Ecuador, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

MONTECRISTI, Ecuador (AP) — The Latest on the impact of the Ecuadorean earthquake (all times local):

1:00 p.m.

The death toll from Ecuador’s major earthquake continues to rise.

Ecuador’s attorney general said Wednesday that 553 people were killed during the quake. The previous report put the number of dead at 525.

Another 4,065 people are injured and about 100 remain missing following Saturday evening’s magnitude-7.8 quake along the Pacific coast.

11:50 a.m.

The U.N. humanitarian chief says hundreds remain missing after Ecuador’s earthquake and that 21,000 people “need shelter immediately.”

Stephen O’Brien spoke to reporters Wednesday by telephone from the country. He stresses the “real need” for drinking water in the affected areas.

He calls the quake a massive one “with devastating consequences.”

10:45 a.m.

Pope Francis has sent another message of encouragement to victims of Ecuador’s massive earthquake.

Francis told a crowd of Roman Catholics at the Vatican that that his prayers are with the victims of the tragedy.

He expressed “our closeness and our prayers in this time of grief” for Ecuadorans.

 

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6:55 a.m.

The Cuban government says three of its doctors have died in Ecuador’s big earthquake.

The Public Health Ministry says the three were inside a building in the city of Pedernales that collapsed when the magnitude-7.8 quake hit on Saturday evening.

It praises them as “examples of altruism and the solidarity that characterizes our people.”

The ministry says 742 Cuban health workers are laboring in Ecuador, which is an ally of the Cuban government.

The report was published Wednesday on the government’s Cubadebate website.

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3:55 a.m.

The U.S. Geological Survey says that a tremor of magnitude 6.1 has rattled Ecuador.

The tremor was centered offshore, 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Muisne, at 3:33 a.m. local time.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

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3:45 a.m.

Ecuador’s National Prosecutors Office says the death toll from the weekend earthquake has risen to 525, up from a previous official toll of 507.

The office said on its official Twitter account Wednesday that there were at least 11 foreigners among the dead.

It said 15 of the dead remained unidentified but none was foreign.

The office said 435 of the dead were found in the Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales areas.

The Defense Department reported Tuesday that more than 200 people were still missing following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake Saturday.

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3:00 a.m.

Ecuadoreans began burying loved ones felled by the country’s deadliest earthquake in decades, while hopes faded that more survivors will be found.

In the small town of Montecristi, near the port city of Manta, two children were among those buried Tuesday. The funeral had to be held outside under a makeshift awning, because the town’s Roman Catholic church was unsafe from structural damage. Family members wailed loudly and one man fainted as the children were laid to rest in an above-ground vault.

Scenes of mourning multiplied all along Ecuador’s normally placid Pacific coastline, where the tremor flattened towns.

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Associated Press writers Joshua Goodman in Bogota, Colombia, Gonzalo Solano in Quito, Ecuador and Ciaran Giles in Madrid, contributed to this report.

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