Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has appealed to the population to remain calm after two 6.8 magnitude aftershocks hit the county Wednesday, further rattling resident's on the coast approximately one month after a 7.8 earthquake on April 16 that claimed nearly 700 lives.
In posts on social media on Thursday, Correa repeated the assertion made by Ecuador's Geophysical Institute that aftershocks with magnitudes greater than 6 are considered “normal” and could continue to rock the country for months to come.
Correa said the country must remain vigilant and continue to practice emergency drills.
“We must remain calm and stay organized,” said Correa Wednesday.
Ecuador has been experiencing regular tremors since the April 16 quake, however they generally had been decreasing in frequency and magnitude. Wednesday's twin 6.8 aftershocks, the strongest since the initial quake, came as a surprise to many.
The most recently seismic events led to the death of one person and at least 85 injured in the coastal provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabi.
Towns that had been largely spared by the initial earthquake, such as the small village of Cojimies, were severely affected by the pair of strong aftershocks and was partially evacuated.
The aftershocks have caused grief to many of those already struggling to cope with the effects of the earthquake and have led to increased anxiety among Ecuadoreans, especially those on the coast.
teleSUR's correspondent in Ecuador, Christian Salas, said people living in temporary shelters are coping with a lot of stress over the recent aftershocks.
The Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion has dispatched psychologists to attend to those suffering trauma as a result of the earthquake.
Entire neighborhoods were leveled by the 7.8 earthquake on April 16 and survivors expressed gratitude for the support they have received.
Many of those who lost their homes in the initial earthquake have found refuge in government shelters or informal camps set up by residents.
Although the government shelters afford people with some of the comforts of home, such as electricity and hygiene services, many are eager to return to their properties, with some having already started reconstruction.
The recent aftershocks, however, have led some to question when they will reclaim a sense of normality.
Rosa Arias, a resident of the island town of Muisne, told El Comercio her family had started rebuilding but were spooked by the twin aftershocks.
“We're scared and now we very much want to leave,” Eoldia Quiñonez, another resident of Muisne, told El Comercio.
Quiñonez's home partially survived the initial earthquake, only for her home to collapse completely in during the aftershock.
Classes and public events in the coastal provinces have been suspended until at least Monday.
Meanwhile all large-scale events in Ecuador's two largest cities, Quito and Guayaquil, have been temporarily suspended by local authorities out of precaution.
The government opted to suspend classes nation-wide for one day after the second 6.8 aftershock hit the country shortly before noon Wednesday. Many students arrived to their schools only to be told to go home, with several visibly shaken by the aftershocks.
Nonetheles,s many of those affected by the earthquake soldier on.
In private correspondence between Vice President Jorge Glas and President Correa, Glas said he was moved by the resilience of the children he met while supervising efforts in Portoviejo.
“Believe me you must be tough out here, a girl with light-colored eyes told me her mom had died but that her dog was about to give birth,” wrote Glas in a message that was shared by the president.