Local authorities have declared a state of emergency throughout Ecuador as the country is rocked by the worst earthquake to hit since 1987.
Rescuers in Ecuador are working around the clock to save people who may be trapped under the rubble following Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
The quake struck at 6.58 local time on Saturday evening, lasting for just under a minute and reverberating through northern Peru and southern Colombia.
Whilst no casualties have been reported thus far in Peru or Colombia, the devastating quakes have seen at least 1,500 injured and 238 people killed in Ecuador.
Vice President Jorge Glas called it the “worst seismic movement we have faced in decades”.
“The immediate priority is to rescue people in the rubble,” President Rafael Correa said via Twitter.
“Everything can be rebuilt, but lives cannot be recovered, and that’s what hurts the most.”
“There are people trapped in various places, and we are starting rescue operations,” Mr Glas said before boarding a plane to one of the worst hit areas – Portoviejo on the Pacific coast.
Authorities have also listed Pedernales as one of the worst affected areas, estimated that approximately 400 more bodies could be discovered, under over 40 collapsed hotels.
“Pedernales is devastated. Buildings have fallen down, especially hotels where there are lots of tourists staying. There are lots of dead bodies,” he told local media.
“We need help. We need medicine, water and food to help people.”
Mr Glas has deployed 14,000 security forces, 241 medical staff and two mobile hospitals, to the worst affected areas with reinforcements soon to arrive from Colombia and Mexico.
The earthquake is the deadliest to hit the country since a magnitude 6.8 tremor in 1987, saw over 1000 people killed.