Ecuador quake death toll jumps to 646, one week on

QUITO (AFP) - Nearly 650 people are now known to have died in the strong earthquake that hit Ecuador one week ago, President Rafael Correa said on Saturday (April 23), as the toll jumped yet higher.

Last Saturday's 7.8-magnitude quake was the worst to strike the South American country in decades, causing buildings to collapse and damaging roads and other infrastructure in tourist areas along Ecuador's coast.

Strong aftershocks have rattled the country daily since and the number of dead is expected to rise further with another 130 people still missing.

"We have 646 dead, 12,492 wounded and 26,091 people in shelters," Correa said, adding that more than 100 people had been plucked alive from deep rubble and rescue work is ongoing, even though hopes of finding more survivors are fast evaporating.

The previous death toll stood at 602.

Correa announced a series of drastic economic measures in an address to the nation Wednesday aimed at paying for what he estimates will be the $3 billion cost of rebuilding the shattered country.