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Search for survivors begins in Ecuador after massive earthquake

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Intensive search for possible survivors is underway in Ecuador after the country suffered a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which smashed the Andean nation’s coastal region killing at least 272 people and leveling resort towns in and around the district.

Scores of traumatized Ecuadoreans slept in the rubble as rescuers made frantic effort to dig out possible survivors from the debris after the earthquake ripped apart buildings and roads, knocked out power, and injured at least 2,068 people.

Soldiers and police patrolled the hot, dark streets of the devastated beach town of Pedernales while pockets of rescue workers ploughed on as largely poor and shaken survivors curled up for the night on mattresses or plastic chairs next to the rubble of their homes.

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“My little cousins are inside, before there were noises, screams. We must find them,” pleaded Isaac, 18, as the firemen combed the debris.

Leftist President Rafael Correa, who cut short a visit to Italy, surveyed the damage in the coastal province of Manabi on Sunday night.

“Ecuador has been hit tremendously hard,” Correa said in a televised address, his voice breaking as he said he feared the death toll would rise from what he called a tragedy.

Late on Sunday, fire-fighters entered a partially destroyed house to search for three children and a man apparently trapped inside, as a crowd of 40 gathered in the darkness to watch.

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