Toll rises from Monday’s earthquake: Three dead, 62 injured, tens-of-million in property damage

Dec 20, 2016 | 4 comments

During a tour of affected areas of Esmeraldas Province, President Rafael Correa said the damage from Monday morning’s earthquake is far greater than first thought.

A hotel destroyed in the earthquake.

“It is painful to witness the destruction this community has suffered,” the president said during a walk-through of coastal neighborhoods Monday afternoon. “We knew there was damage but we did not realize the human toll it had taken.”

Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat reported that the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that struck just after 2 a.m. Monday was responsible for three deaths, 62 injuries and 700 people left homeless. It said that it would take weeks to calculate property damage but said it would be in the “range of many tens-of-million of dollars.”

At least 70 structures were severely damaged, many of them beyond repair, Risk Management said. Among the damaged structures were at least three modern high-rise condos in the Atacames and Tonsupa resort area.

The country’s Geophysical Institute (IG) said that the damage was intensified due to soil conditions in the quake zone. “There is little rock near the surface of the affected area which allowed a greater degree of shaking,” the IG said.

The IG added that the quake was the result of increased stress applied to off-shore faults from the April 16 7.8 magnitude earthquake. “This was not an aftershock of that earthquake but its intensity was increased because of pressure built up as a result of it,” IG said. “It is a natural readjustment of faults.”

Risk management officials said that all three earthquake deaths were the result of heart attacks suffered by elderly residents.

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