Officials estimate final earthquake death toll at about 700; reports of thousands missing were inaccurate they say

May 2, 2016 | 12 comments

The death toll from the April 16 earthquake stands at 660 and national and local officials say they don’t expect it to go significantly higher. “I have heard an estimate for a final count of 700 and this seems correct,” said Ecuador tourism minister Fernando Alvarado. “There are 33 missing persons in Manabi and Esmeraldas Provinces so a few more bodies may be recovered. There will also be some deaths due to injury,” he said.

Damaged road near Pedernales.

Damaged road near Pedernales.

In the days immediately following the 7.8 magnitude quake, estimates of thousands of missing were circulated on social media and suggested by some officials. “These were not accurate,” said Alvarado. “They were the result of early confusion and were, in some cases, malicious, intended to spread panic.”

According to the Ecuador Ministry of Health, 4,605 people were injured and 29,000 made homeless. About 22,000 are currently being housed in tents.

Both local and federal officials report that donations are reaching the victims and that efficient distribution streams have been developed. “It is not a perfect system but it is beginning to function as it should,” said Alvarado. He added that some communities cut off by damaged roads and bridges continue to present distribution problems.

In addition to private donations from Ecuadorians, more than 20 countries have shipped supplies to the disaster area. Currently, four foreign ships are docked at the Port of Manta off-loading supplies.

Theft of donated supplies and conflicts between private charities and the government continue to be reported by the media but Alvarado said they were overstated. “Considering what we are facing, people are getting along well,” he said. “We have extra police on duty to combat the theft.”

 

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