Earthquake Ravages Ecuador
Small South American Nation Will Need to Rebuild
Ecuador was hit by a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the evening of April 16th, the worst earthquake the country has seen in over 70 years. The South American country has declared a state of emergency after the quake devastated the nation’s coastline.
Destructive and ruinous, the earthquake’s epicenter was just off the Pacific coast of Ecuador, sending waves of destruction inland. Several strong tremors and over 700 reported aftershocks have continued to shake the country since the initial earthquake. More tremors and aftershocks are to be expected in the near future, but it is safe to assume they will cause little to no damage.
Over 650 people are confirmed dead by authorities, with more to come. The earthquake has destroyed over 7,000 buildings and left more than 25,000 living in shelters or homeless. Already suffering from little-to-no economic growth, the estimated $3 billion in damages will make a massive dent in Ecuador’s already struggling economy (Reuters).
Several towns along the coastline, such as Manta or Pedernales, which are the areas most heavily damaged by the earthquake, were nearly completely leveled by the initial earthquake (BBC). The Ecuadorian government is currently in the process of discussing the relocation and rebuilding of these and other small towns that were totally demolished by the natural disaster.
President Rafael Correa and his government are doing their best to provide damage control. In his weekly television broadcast, Correa, who cut his trip to Italy short so that he could return back to his country, stated that these were “sad days for the homeland” and that “the country is in crisis” (The Guardian).
Over 14,000 security personnel have been deployed to affected areas to help keep the peace. Quake survivors and affected areas are receiving international aid, as well as food, water and medicine from both their government and international organizations. Correa admitted that some areas have received delayed aid due to bad road conditions.
Due to already reduced oil revenue and no major foreign investors, Ecuador’s government is planning on possibly raising taxes temporarily, selling off assets and issuing government bonds to attempt to offset the cost of what will surely be a massive rebuilding effort. Congress is expected to convene on April 25th to make a ruling on the tax proposal (Reuters).
The country’s private banking association announced on Saturday that it would be deferring credit card, loan, and mortgage payments for the next three months in an attempt to aid the rebuilding effort and alleviate some of the pressure placed on those affected by the earthquake.