QUITO - Ecuador's president Rafael Correa said that 54 people have been rescued alive after the earthquake which shook the coastal areas in the north of the country Saturday. At least 480 people were killed, some 4,027 were injured and 231 are still missing, according to the government.
Correa provided the numbers of those rescued alive to reporters on Tuesday, during another tour of some areas affected by the quake where he inspected the damage, talked to victims and greeted members of national and international rescue teams.
The president showed deep appreciation, thanking the "whole world" for the solidarity shown to Ecuador and noted that the all of Latin America has showed their support, as well as the many governments such as Spain and the U.S. "President Obama has just called me," he said.
According to the government news agency Andes, the damage amount as a result of the earthquake would reach some $3 billion.
"The losses are multi-million. I estimate roughly $3 billion or 3 percent of gross domestic product and that means years of rebuilding. It is a long fight so I urge you not to be discouraged," Correa said.
Rescuers continue to search for possible survivors in the areas most affected by the 7.8 magnitude quake.
After the disaster, the Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency in the provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabi, Guayas, Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Los Rios and Santa Elena.