A magnitude 6 earthquake hit Ecuador on Thursday, April 21st, after a magnitude 7.8 one last saturday. The latest quake hit 100 km north-northwest of Portoviejo and at a depth of 10 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Portoviejo is a coastal town, very near to the most affected areas by saturday’s seismic activity. These areas will be exempt of the tax hikes, among other drastic measures that Ecuador’s president —Rafael Correa— announced as compulsory to start repairing damages estimated in 1 to 3 billion dollars. Correa also affirmed that the death toll would have been lower, had citizens abided by the construction regulations put in place after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which killed 300,000. These regulations might be even more necessary in the future, as new research by volcanologist and professor of geophysical hazards at University of College London, Bill McGuire indicates that ongoing global warming and climate change have an impact on geological disasters, such as tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Keep reading for more information on the 7.8 earthquake that hit Ecuador on saturday, as reported by Xinhuanet.com:
ECUADOR CAMPAIGNS FOR REBUILDING FUNDS, AS QUAKE TOLL RISES TO 587
QUITO, April 21 (Xinhua) — Ecuador is launching a campaign to gather relief funds urgently needed for its quake-devastated areas, as the official death toll has now reached 587.
By Thursday afternoon, a campaign launched by Ecuador’s National Assembly had already gathered 377,197 U.S. dollars, according to a press release from the parliament.
The massive campaign was launched on Wednesday, seeking funds to help the thousands of people who were displaced or lost their homes in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake over the weekend.
The president of the National Assembly, Gabriela Rivadeneira, launched the campaign live on radio, and said it would count on the support of local and international artists.
Famous Ecuadorian singer, Gustavo Velasquez, went on national radio on Thursday to thank people for their donations and encourage them to give more.
“When it rains, it pours,” said the singer. “We must continue on this path of solidarity to help those whose who have lose their brothers in Manabi and Esmeraldas (the two provinces worst-hit by the quake).”
The death toll from the earthquake that devastated parts of the Ecuadorian coast has reached 587, including 27 foreigners, the government said Thursday. The number of injured stands at 5,733, with 163 reported missing.
A total of 539 victims have been claimed by their families, while 48 remain unidentified.
Among the 27 foreigners killed in the quake, which hit late Saturday, 10 are Colombian, six Cuban, two Canadian, two from the Dominican Republic, two British, and one each from Italy, Germany, France, and Ireland. One has yet to be identified.
On Wednesday night, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced a raft of new measures to raise funds to help rebuild.
In a live speech on television, Correa stated that the damage would cost billions of U.S. dollars to repair, which would be a challenge for a country strapped by falling oil prices.
As part of the powers granted to him by the current state of emergency, Correa announced a temporary tax hike, effective immediately.
The country’s sales tax will rise from 12 percent to 14 percent. People with worth over 1 million U.S. dollars will see a one-time 0.9 percent tax on their fortunes. Those making over 1,000 U.S. dollars a month will be taxed a day’s wage and people with salaries of over 5,000 U.S. dollars will be taxed five days of wages.
The reconstruction will be a challenge for Ecuador, with the IMF predicting a 4.5-percent GDP contraction for the country in 2016 prior to the earthquake.
Also on Wednesday, Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, visited the disaster zone and said he would urgently seek international donations in the tens of millions of dollars to help the recovery.