UPDATE: 5:07 a.m. EDT — A magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck off the coast of Ecuador late Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake comes just days after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake and a series of aftershocks rattled the South American nation killing 507 people.
The death toll from Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Ecuador climbed to 507 late Tuesday, the government said, while the Defense Department reported 231 people still missing. Authorities reportedly said that at least nine foreigners, including an American and two Canadians, were among those killed.
As rescue workers searched for survivors in the rubble from the quake, people began burying their loved ones. The quake destroyed or damaged about 1,500 buildings, triggered mudslides and left some 20,500 people living in shelter homes. A top official told CNN Tuesday that the recent earthquake was the worst disaster the country has faced in decades.
"It's the worst tragedy in 60 years," Defense Minister Ricardo Patiño reportedly said. "We're facing the most difficult phase right now, which is rescuing victims and recovering bodies.
"We're removing debris, and we will very likely find more bodies," Patiño told reporters. "It's going to take us years to recover from this."
Ricardo Peñaherrera of Ecuador's national emergency management office reportedly said that the coastal Manabi province was the hardest-hit area with more than 200 people dead.
Several countries have offered relief for the South American nation. The U.S. government said Tuesday that it was sending a team of disaster experts as well $100,000 in assistance, while Cuba sent doctors and Venezuela sent food.