Wildfires send smoke over parts of Cuenca
Wildfires have burned more than 200 hectares south and west of Cuenca, covering some areas in dense smoke, emergency management officials said Wednesday night. Three fires burned dozens of hectares of forest and grassland in the Santa Maria del Vergel sector near Turi where firefighters cut fire breaks to protect several homes. One fire climbed the sides of the Icto Cruz, the mountain east of Turi, that hosts dozens of communications towers. Other large fires, mostly contained, burn near Molleturo in the Cajas Mountains. Because of the mountainous terrain in Santa Maria del Vergel and Molleturo, the Cuenca fire department called in helicopters with water buckets to assist firefighting efforts.
One firefighter suffered a broken leg Tuesday near Turi when he lost his footing on a steep hillside.
Moreno orders investigation of unauthorized bank charges
President Lenin Moreno has ordered three government agencies to investigate unauthorized charges on bank accounts and credit cards. Moreno said bank customers who have been unfairly charged will be reimbursed and that banks that did not verify charges from third parties, such as insurance companies, will be fined.
The president said that bank customers who believe they have been improperly charged can call a new hotline, 1800-INDEBIDOS, to file a complaint. Moreno’s actions were prompted by a report by TC Television announcer Mauricio Ayora two weeks ago that the bank accounts and credit cards of tens-of-thousands of Ecuadorians were being charged for products and services they did not agree to purchase.
Jetblue adds Guayaquil – Fort Lauderdale flights
U.S.-based airline JetBlue announced Monday that it will begin daily Guayaquil to Fort Lauderdale, Florida service in the first quarter of 2019. JetBlue currently has daily service to Fort Lauderdale from Quito. The Guayaquil-Fort Lauderdale flights are part of a major revision of JetBlue service, the airline said, as it drops service to a number of destinations within the U.S. and adds flights to the Caribbean and Latin America. JetBlue currently serves six cities in South America and plans to expand that number to 12 by the end of 2019.
National unemployment rate is unchanged
Ecuador’s unemployment and underemployment rates remained unchanged from September 2017 to September 2018, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC). Unemployment stood at 4 percent in September while the underemployment rate was 39.6 percent. The corresponding numbers were 4.01 percent and 40.4 percent in 2017. According to INEC, Ecuador has a workforce of 8.3 million of which 7.9 million are currently employed.