Fierce aftershock rattles Ecuador as hope fades for 1,700 missing after quake

Ecuador was rattled by a fierce aftershock on Wednesday as the death toll from Saturday’s earthquake rose to 525. The latest tremor was centred offshore, about 44 miles from the Pacific coast town Esmeraldas at a depth of six miles. It was stronger than any of the previous aftershocks, waking people up and sending them running into the street. It came as officials said the death toll had risen above the 500 mark and warned that up to 1,700 other people were still missing.

The rescue has been very slow and precious lives have been lost. We relatives have been waiting here since Saturday night.

Pedro Merro, a resident of Manta

Saturday's 7.8-magnitude quake struck Ecuador’s Pacific coast in a zone popular with tourists and 11 foreigners are known to be among the dead. Sniffer dogs and mechanical diggers were busy at work in the wreckage of coastal towns such as Pedernales and Manta as the stench of rotting bodies grew stronger under the baking sun. Frustration was growing among the survivors, including one businessman who said people were still alive in the concrete and twisted metal of a building he owned. "I have received messages on my telephone. They say there are 10 of them in a cavity,“ said Luis Felipe Navarro. "But the rescue teams will not listen to me.”

It is very hard but we are moving forward.

President Rafael Correa