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Ecuador struggles with basic services after powerful earthquake

Crews searched for survivors in the rubble of Ecuador's 7.8 earthquake around the clock, rescuing three people and pulling more bodies from the debris. Devastation from Saturday night's disaster is everywhere, and the death toll has risen to 350. John Yang reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The death toll in Ecuador’s devastating earthquake rose to 350 today. Hundreds more are missing, but three people were rescued, after being trapped for 32 hours.

    John Yang reports on the day’s developments.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Through a second night, crews searched for survivors in the rubble. Families of the missing watched anxiously.

  • BETTY REINA (through interpreter):

    No, I didn’t sleep last night and I won’t best able to sleep today because I am distressed with the desperation to find them, to see them, to know they are OK.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Daylight broke. More bodies were pulled from there debris, and the devastation from Saturday night’s disaster lay everywhere.

    Stephan Kueffner of The Economist is watching from Quito.

  • STEPHAN KUEFFNER, The Economist:

    You start hearing, like, the window frames cracking. You feel the ground shake. Then you see — you look up and see how the lamps moving. And then you realize after a couple of seconds, no, this is not going to be over quickly.

  • JOHN YANG:

    The quake had a magnitude of 7.8 and struck about nine miles off Ecuador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean, about 100 miles from the capital city of Quito. It was the strongest tremor in decades to hit the Andean nation of 16 million.

    Drone footage over the provincial capital of Portoviejo shows multistory buildings completely askew and a ruined infrastructure. Cars were crushed, homes teetered at precarious angles, and families slept on the streets, on edge after hundreds of aftershocks.

  • JAVIER MENDOZA (through interpreter):

    Hopefully, we get the support and help we need, because we slept in a field all night.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, flew back Sunday from a trip to Italy.

  • PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA, Ecuador (through interpreter):

    Downtown Portoviejo is truly devastated. The situation is stabilizing. It’s being coordinated. Aid is arriving. The whole country is mobilized. It’s a huge training, the biggest since the Ambato earthquake in 1949. But even bigger is the world and the Ecuadorian people. We’re united today more than ever.

  • JOHN YANG:

    There’s almost nothing to work with in some of the hardest-hit places. Again, reporter Stephan Kueffner:

  • STEPHAN KUEFFNER:

    In the beach town of Canoa, the situation is so grave that there are about 400 homeless people, including 150 children, with extremely limited supplies. And the situation is so — that bodies are being taken to the local park, as they have nowhere to put them.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Relatives consoled each other outside Portoviejo’s morgue this morning, as more and more bodies arrived. The injured were treated in makeshift tents set up by the Red Cross. More than 2,500 people hurt.

    Diego Castellanos is with the Red Cross in Quito.

  • DIEGO CASTELLANOS, Red Cross:

    It’s like a war happened there. They don’t have water. They are looking for relatives all the time during the day, during the night. And some of the work or the job that we are trying to do with them is just to give them the support, and also to give them the food and the water and all the support that we can.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Meanwhile, aid has begun to trickle in from neighboring countries, including Bolivia. And a plane loaded with a 47-member Spanish rescue team left Madrid today. It also carried 15 tons of humanitarian aid.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang.

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