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  • People stand next to the debris of a building after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck off the country

    People stand next to the debris of a building after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck off the country's northwest Pacific coast, Ecuador, April 16, 2016 | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 April 2016

President Rafael Correa just tweeted that the death toll has risen to at least 233. In Pedernales, on the coast, officials believe the death toll will surpass 300.

A couple hours after Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa updated the death toll to 246 due to the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled not only Ecuador, but Peru and Colombia as well, Vice President Jorge Glas reported on two more occasions confirmed deaths raising the toll to 246, adding that at least 2527 were injured.

"Official death toll rises to 233. Bario Tarqui of Manta hugely affected. Pedernales destroyed. Vice president headed for Portoviejo."

Glas announced shortly after the earthquake that the government had declared a "state of exception" and had activated its Emergency Operations Committee, which is tasked with coordinating emergency services.

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He also announced a US$600 million fund to deal with the aftermath of the tragic earthquake.

The local government in Pedernales, on the northern coast of Ecuador, said they believe the death toll in this region alone will be greater than 300.

Vice President Jorge Glas said in a press conference that landslides in many regions of the country were complicating access to remote areas that were believed to have been mostly affected by the quake.

Ecuador's Geophysical Institute reported the epicenter was the coastal province of Esmeraldas.

President Rafael Correa, who is attending a conference in Rome, said on Sunday that Ecuadorians must remain united and confident that national authorities will properly address the contingency left by the earthquake, the strongest in 40 years.

Correa said that the international community had shown great solidarity and offered help to the victims. He confirmed that two rescue teams from Colombia and Mexico are heading to Ecuador to assist national authorities with the recovery effort.

The tremor was felt throughout the country, with reports on social media indicating it was felt as far as the city of Cuenca, located in the south of the country.

The tremor was strong enough to cause damage to buildings, though there were no reports of any fallen buildings.

The Navy's oceanographic institute recommended staying away from the coast, though there is no current tsunami warning.

The most serious damage appeared to have occurred in the city of Guayaquil, with an overpass near the Secular University having collapsed.

It is not known if there were any injuries as a result. There were also reports that many sections of Guayaquil and Quito were left without power.

Social media was filled with images of damages caused by the earthquake, while Facebook activated its "Safety Check" system.

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