Ecuador earthquake: Death toll jumps to 272;
more than 2,500 injured
by Ralph Ellis, Faith Karimi, Azadeh Ansari and Natalie Gallon, CNN
(CNN)Rescue crews searched desperately through rubble for survivors of a
magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck coastal Ecuador.
The death toll has soared to 272, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said
Sunday evening. That number is expected to rise as rescue teams dig
through the rubble, he said.
Earlier that day, Vice President Jorge Glas had estimated that at least
2,527 people were injured.
The hardest-hit area was the coastal Manabi Province, where about 200
people died, said Ricardo Peñaherrera of Ecuador's national emergency
management office. The cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales, a
tourist destination, saw the most devastation but damage was widespread
throughout the country.
"The first hours are crucial," Correa said. "We're finding signs of life
in the rubble. We're giving this priority. After, we'll work to find and
People looking for family and friends frantically dug with their hands
and tools until excavation equipment arrived.
"It was the worst experience of my life," survivor Jose Meregildo said
Sunday about the tremors that violently shook his house in Guayaquil,
300 miles away from the quake's epicenter. "Everybody in my neighborhood
was screaming saying it was going to be the end of the world."
The earthquake hit Saturday around 7 p.m. while people were going about
their evening. The tremors buckled overpasses trapping drivers. A
shopping mall partially collapsed on customers and several buildings
have been flattened with their content spilled into the streets.
All six coastal provinces -- Guayas, Manabi, Santo Domingo, Los Rios,
Esmeraldas and Galapagos -- are in state of emergencies.
People left their homes and wandered around, some sleeping in the
"I found my house like this," said Nely Intriago, standing in front of a
pile of rubble. "What am I going to do? Cry, that's what. Now we are on
the street with nothing."
Armed forces, police deployed
In a race to help residents, Ecuador deployed 10,000 soldiers and 4,600
police officers to the affected areas. The armed forces built mobile
hospitals in Pedernales and Portoviejo and set up temporary shelters.
The military also brought in more K9 units to aid the search for
survivors -- and bodies.
Videos showed rescuers pulling a young girl underneath the rubble of the
Hotel Miami in the province of Manabi, finally pulling her out and
taking her away on a stretcher.
Getting supplies and rescue crews to emergency areas has been a
"The lack of water and communication remains a big problem," Peñaherrera,
of the emergency management office told CNN en Español. "Many highways
are in bad shape, especially in the mountainous area because it has been
raining recently due to (the) El Niño weather phenomenon."
The governments of Colombia, Chile, Spain and Mexico are sending help
for rescue efforts, the vice president said. Secretary of State John
Kerry said that the United States was "ready to assist in any way we
Correa arrived to the city of Portoviejo on Sunday night after cutting
short his visit to a Vatican conference.
"I have infinite gratitude to the spirit of the Ecuadorian people, of
our firefighters, our soldiers, our policemen and all workers who
haven't slept, haven't eaten as they work hard to save lives," he said
The president's official Twitter account used a hashtag that translated
to "Ecuador ready and in solidarity" and showed him at one of the
During his Sunday prayer, Pope Francis asked for those present to pray
for the people affected by the earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan.
"Last night a violent earthquake hit Ecuador, causing numerous victims
and great damages," Francis said. "Let's pray for those populations, and
for those of Japan, where as well there has been some earthquakes in the
Japan had been hit with a series of earthquakes that have killed dozens.
Closures in recovery efforts
Ecuador's Interior Ministry ordered all nightlife venues in affected
areas closed for the next 72 hours.
Also, the nation's soccer federation said it has suspended the remaining
matches of the current round of the Ecuadorian championship.
All mobile operators are allowing free text messages for customers to
reach out to loved ones in Manabi and Esmeraldas provinces, Glas said.
The tremor was centered 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) southeast of the
coastal town of Muisne, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
It's the deadliest earthquake to hit the nation since March 1987 when a
7.2-magnitude temblor killed 1,000 people, according to the USGS.
The earthquake left shoppers shaken in Guayaquil. Video footage from a
store showed kitchen utensils swinging back and forth as some items
tumbled off shelves.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the capital of
Quito, 173 kilometers (108 miles) from the quake epicenter. The tsunami
threat following the earthquake has "now largely passed," according to
the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
CNN's Rafael Romo, Steve Almasy, Tina Burnside, Ralph Ellis, Dakota
Flournoy, Nelson Quinones, Natalie Gallon and Madison Park contributed
to this report.
Rescue crews seek survivors of 2nd Japanese quake; at least 16 dead
by Don Melvin, Greg Botelho, Ray Sanche and Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN
Tokyo, Japan (CNN)Rescue crews scrambled through rubble Saturday in a
race against time for survivors of a magnitude-7.0 earthquake that
struck Japan's Kyushu Island, the same region rattled by a 6.2 quake two
A total of 25 people have died in both earthquakes, according to current
The death toll in the latest Kyushu earthquake is 16 people, according
to Kumamoto Prefecture's disaster management office. A previous
earthquake that struck the area on Thursday had killed nine people.
The earthquake toppled buildings and shredded structures into pile of
debris. At least 23 people were buried inside buildings, Chief Cabinet
Secretary Yoshihide Suga said .
TV Asahi showed crews crawling over a collapsed roof in an attempt to
find an elderly couple. An 80-year-old man was pulled from the rubble,
TV Asahi said.
The tremors appear to have caused extensive damage, overturning cars,
splitting roads and triggering a landslide as shown by TV Asahi footage.
The area was rocked by as many as 165 aftershocks, some of them as
strong as magnitude-5.3 struck in the hours after the quake.
Television images showed mostly desolate streets, shards of broken glass
on the streets and people huddled outside.
Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 7,262 people have
sought shelter at 375 centers since Friday in Kumamoto Prefecture. Suga
said 20,000 self-defense forces are being deployed to the region for
Japan's "Ring of Fire"
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the latest quake struck just
west-southwest of Kumamoto-shi and about 8 miles south-southeast of
Ueki, the epicenter of the late Thursday tremor that left nine dead.
"No question, this is a large and very important earthquake," said Doug
Given, a geophysicist with the USGS. "And it will do a lot of damage."
Given noted: "The four islands of Japan are on the edge of what's
traditionally been known as the 'Ring of Fire'" -- a stretch along parts
of the Pacific Ocean prone to volcanoes and earthquakes.
Victor Sardina, a geophysicist in Honolulu, Hawaii, told CNN that the
latest quake was about 30 times more powerful than Thursday's deadly
tremor. He predicted "severe, serious implications in terms of damage
and human losses."
The shallow depth of the quake -- about 10 kilometers, or 6 miles -- and
the densely populated area where it struck could prove to be
devastating, according to experts.
The quake prompted the Japan Meteorological Agency to issue a tsunami
advisory for coastal regions of Japan on the Ariake Sea and Yatsushiro
Sea around 2 a.m. Saturday (1 p.m. ET Friday). The agency subsequently
lifted all tsunami warnings and advisories.
Japanese media reported a small scale eruption of Mt. Aso around 8:30
a.m. local time Saturday. It was unclear whether the eruption occurred
in relation to the earthquake, according to the Japan's meteorological
'Buildings were swaying and cracking'
"This looks like it's going to be a very damaging earthquake. I think we
can expect that this is going to be far worse" than Thursday's tremor,
said Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center.
In short video posted to Instagram, people standing in the parking lot
of a 7-Eleven in Kumamoto let out screams following an aftershock.
Journalist Mike Firn in Tokyo told CNN he felt the trembles in a
building some 900 kilometers, or more than 550 miles away from the
"The building started shaking," he said. "It was swaying quite strongly
for over a minute. ... Buildings were swaying and cracking."
The latest tremor suggests that the earthquake on Thursday was a
foreshock, though USGS expert cautioned "that's not to say that the
Earth can't produce a bigger earthquake still to follow."
"But statistically, it's more likely that this latest event will be
followed by aftershocks, which are all smaller."
Prime Minister on the way to the site
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the earthquake-hit area in Kumamoto
prefecture later Saturday, he said at a meeting at emergency response
headquarters in Tokyo.
"I would like to see the site with my own eyes and hear from the victims
directly," Abe said.
Search crews were continuing to dig through rubble looking for other
people trapped under collapsed buildings.
The Thursday quake struck near Ueki, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Dozens of smaller aftershocks followed.
"The ground shook for about 20 seconds before the 6.2-magnitude quake
stopped," witness Lim Ting Jie had said.
Two deaths occurred in Mashiki, the Kumamoto prefecture office said. One
person died in a collapsed house, and the other died in a fire caused by
the quake. Journalist Mike Fern told CNN that scores of buildings had
either collapsed or caught fire, while the tremors triggered landslides,
tore up roads and in one case, derailed a bullet train.
Nearly 800 people were injured, 50 severely. The prefecture office said
44,449 people had been evacuated.
Baby pulled from rubble after earlier quake
Japan had already been coping with a previous earthquake on Kyushu
island on Thursday. During the search and recovery effort for the first
earthquake, rescuers found an 8-month-old baby girl alive in the ruins
of a home destroyed by the earlier quake on Japan's Kyushu island.
Rescuers had been told there was a baby inside the collapsed house, but
aftershocks from the quake prevented the use of heavy equipment at the
site. After six hours after the infant was trapped, she was pulled from
the rubble early Friday.
"It was miracle she was unharmed," said Hidenori Watanabe, a spokesman
for the Kumamoto Higashi fire department.
Fifty rescuers -- wearing dark uniforms and white hard-hats with lights
-- scoured the large pile of rubble that just hours before had been a
home. The infant's mother and grandmother had managed to escape.
The little girl was finally found safe amid the debris in a space under
one of the house's pillars, according to Watanabe.
This happened in the middle of the night, in an area lit only by
Carefully, rescuers passed the barefooted baby to one another, before
she finally got to crews on the ground and was taken swiftly away.
A high-risk area
The largest recorded quake to hit Japan came on March 11, 2011, when a
magnitude-9.0 quake centered 231 miles (372 kilometers) northeast of
Tokyo devastated the country.
That quake triggered a massive tsunami that swallowed entire communities
in eastern Japan. It caused catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Japan: Fukushima clean-up may take up to 40 years
The disaster killed about 22,000 people -- almost 20,000 from the
initial quake and tsunami, and the rest from health conditions related
to the disaster.
CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki reported from Tokyo, CNN's Don Melvin from London
and CNN's Ralph Ellis, Greg Botelho and Ray Sanchez reported and wrote
from Atlanta and New York. CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo, Paul Armstrong in
Hong Kong, and David Williams and Richard Beltran in Atlanta contributed
to this report.
New discovery means more U.S. states will face a risk from Zika
by Nick Miroff
For the first time in the Western Hemisphere, researchers have detected
the Zika virus in Aedes albopictus, the mosquito species known as the
“Asian tiger,” a finding that increases the number of U.S. states
potentially at risk for transmission of the disease.
During the summer months when U.S. mosquito populations are at their
peak, albopictus are more ubiquitous than the Aedes aegypti that have
been the primary vector of the spread of Zika elsewhere in the Americas.
Unlike the aegypti mosquito, which is mostly present in southern United
States and along the Gulf Coast, the albopictus has a range as far north
as New England and the lower Great Lakes.
The discovery was reported recently by the Pan American Health
Organization after researchers in Mexico confirmed the presence of Zika
in Asian tiger mosquitoes captured in the state of San Luis Potosi and
sent them to government labs for testing.
U.S. health officials say they had anticipated the finding and have
already encouraged states within the range of the Asian tiger mosquitoes
to prepare for Zika. Scientists had previously identified the Asian
tiger as the primary vector for Zika during a 2007 outbreak in the West
African country of Gabon.
U.S. health officials say the latest discovery should serve as a wake-up
call to state and local governments that have assumed their populations
were too far north to be at risk.
“There are officials who have been saying we don’t have aedes aegypti,
so we don’t need to be worried or have a plan,” said Janet McAllister,
an entomologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“What CDC is saying is: You need a plan in place because albopictus
could transmit Zika in your area, and you need to take it seriously.”
While the methods for eliminating the aegypti and albopictus mosquitoes
are similar, they are not identical, experts say, because the two
species have significantly different behavioral and breeding patterns.
Unlike the aegypti mosquito, which thrives in urban areas by laying eggs
in discarded food containers and old tires, the Asian tiger mosquito
lives outdoors, laying its eggs in tree stumps and holes, McAllister
said. It doesn’t try to follow humans indoors and prefers leafy forests
to dense urban environments. It’s especially fond of suburban back yards
and sprawling city parks.
Marcos Espinal, director of communicable diseases at the Pan American
Health Organization, said researchers are still trying to determine how
effectively the Asian tiger can spread disease in comparison to aegypti.
“Scientists will not be surprised if it’s a competent vector, but we
need to find out more,” Espinal said in an interview.
CDC entomologist McAllister said there are several reasons to doubt that
the Asian tiger mosquito will be able to drive the kind of Zika outbreak
ravaging Brazil, where more than 1,000 infants have been born with
undersize heads and severe brain damage probably caused by a
Zika-related infection during the early stages of fetal development.
For one, the albopictus mosquito is “a more aggressive biter,”
McAllister said, as it feeds on humans, raccoons, squirrels or any other
warm-blooded mammal it finds.
“Once it starts taking a blood meal, it will stay on that person until
it’s completely full,” she said, instead of jumping from person to
person — precisely the promiscuous behavior that makes the aegypti
species so effective at spreading infections.
The aegypti variety is much more adapted to humans, she said, as it
flies low around human ankles to avoid detection, then eats quick, short
meals that reduce its chances of getting swatted.
“It won’t take a complete blood meal if people are actively moving
around, so that’s what makes aegypti a super-spreader,” McAllister said.
“Whereas the albopictus tends to stay put.”
Specimens of the Asian tiger species found in the United States have
been traced back to northern Japan, reflecting the mosquito’s ability to
survive colder weather. With a distinctive black-and-white coloring, the
species was first detected in North America at the Port of Houston in
1985, and later showed up in the Port of Los Angeles. In both instances,
scientists suspect the larvae arrived in shipments of used tires.
Albopictus eggs have also arrived from Asia in the ornamental plants
sold as “lucky bamboo” in U.S. department stores.
In Europe albopictus populations have increased so fast that the
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, a European Union
agency, has labeled it the world’s most invasive mosquito species.
Eliminating albopictus larvae can be more difficult than controlling
aegypti populations because the species can reproduce in a variety of
outdoor environments, said Thomas Inglesby, the director of the
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security.
The discovery of Zika in the Asian tiger mosquito means states and
counties in the insect’s range need to rethink their control plans, he
“We have a big country where the responsibility for this rests with a
lot of little jurisdictions, so we don’t have a lot of good data about
how well states and localities are prepared,” Inglesby said.
“Mosquito-control programs around the country are a patchwork.”
“I think some states and local governments have been focusing on aegypti
and less on albopictus, but this finding makes clear that both will
require control measures,” he added.
The White House has asked Congress for nearly $1.9 billion to help state
and local health officials prepare for a Zika outbreak in the United
States this summer, including funds for spraying, larvacide and other
mosquito control methods. The request has been stalled for two months,
and Senate Republicans have countered with a $1.1 billion proposal.
In the meantime, the Obama administration has been paying for Zika
preparations using funds previously approved for fighting Ebola.
According to the most recent CDC figures, 426 Zika cases have been
reported in the 50 U.S. states by travelers who acquired the virus
abroad or had sex with an infected partner. Another 596 cases have been
tallied in U.S. territories, mostly in Puerto Rico, where mosquitoes are
spreading the disease.
There have been no reports of Zika transmission by mosquitoes in the 50
U.S. states, but the CDC has warned that is likely to change as insect
populations increase with warmer weather.