2016 was a year of deadly earthquakes and Ecuador had the worst of it

Jan 1, 2017 | 1 comment

2016 of a year of particularly violent earthquakes in many parts of the world.

President Rafael Correa consoles quake survivor.

Most of the worst quakes were felt along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a zone encompassing the coasts of Asia, Oceania and the Americas. The area is rife with active submarine volcanoes and produces approximately 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes.

However, no country was struck as hard as Ecuador, which suffered hundreds of casualties and continues to reel from aftershocks that persistently rock its coastal cities and regions.

A street in Manta. Credit: El Universo

On April 16 Ecuador was slammed by a 7.8 magnitude quake that claimed more than 670 lives and shattered buildings across the South American country’s Pacific coastal region, adding to the small OPEC nation’s economic difficulties owing to low oil prices.

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The coastal province of Manabi was hit hardest by the quake, registering 646 fatalities, while parts of the neighboring province of Esmeraldas suffered loss of life, injury and significant damage to infrastructure.

The earthquake was the deadliest to strike Ecuador in over 70 years, yet an outpouring of international support — principally from Ecuador’s neighbors, but also from countries such as Palestine, China, and Japan — helped mitigate the worst effects of the disaster. Rescue workers, both domestic and international, saved 113 people from the debris in the days following the earthquake that left about 676 people dead.The extent of the earthquake’s devastation was partly blamed on poor construction methods and a lack of building code enforcement in the country.

“There are individuals who acted with the intention to save a few extra pennies, and by doing so constructed death traps that were approved by local authorities,” President Rafael Correa said back in April, shortly after the quake.

The country has since experienced hundreds of aftershocks and an unusually high degree of seismic events. Most recently, a long stretch of Ecuador’s northwestern Pacific coast was hit on Dec. 19 by an earthquake followed by 20 aftershocks that flattened homes and led to 3 fatalities.

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