Updated on April 18 at 11 a.m. EST
The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades has killed at least 350 people, injured scores more, and destroyed buildings and roads along the nation’s northwestern coast.
The 7.8-magnitude quake struck Saturday night off Ecuador’s Pacific coast, ravaging the fishing ports and beach towns in the area and cutting electric power. It was felt across the country, including in the capital, Quito, about 100 miles from the quake’s epicenter. Dozens of aftershocks followed.
Officials estimated Sunday morning the death toll was about 77 people, but the number jumped to 233 by the afternoon. The government said Monday morning 350 people were killed, according to the BBC.
Emergency workers are scouring debris of flattened buildings in search of survivors who may be trapped. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said Monday the death toll will likely continue to rise.
As many as 2,500 people were injured in the earthquake, which officials said was the most powerful since 1979. A tsunami warning was lifted Saturday night, but coastal residents on Sunday were advised to seek higher ground as a precaution, Reuters reported.
Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas said 10,000 armed forces personnel and 4,600 members of the national police have been dispatched in rescue efforts, the AP reported.