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The cost of rebuilding after massive Ecuador quake

Officials in Ecuador say the massive earthquake one week ago today has killed at least 600 people, injured more than 4,500 others and left 25,000 people homeless. Beyond the human cost of the tragedy, Ecuador now faces a struggle to find the funds to rebuild. Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Schaefer joins Megan Thompson via Skype from Bogota, Colombia with the latest.

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  • MEGAN THOMPSON, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:

    Officials in Ecuador say the massive earthquake one week ago today has killed at least 600 people, injured more than 4,500 others and left 25,000 homeless. Eighty percent of the coastal city of Pedernales, the quake's epicenter, is said to be in ruins. Beyond the human cost of the tragedy, Ecuador now faces a struggle to find the funds to rebuild.

    "Wall Street Journal" reporter Sara Schaefer Munoz has been reporting from Ecuador this week and joins me now via Skype from Bogota, Colombia.

    Sara, I understand you've been traveling around Ecuador. Can you tell me, what have you seen?

  • SARA SCHAEFER MUNOZ, WALL STREET JOURNAL:

    There's a lot of devastation, especially along the coastal areas. That's where the epicenter of the quake was, and there are a lot of small cities that started out really 10, 15 years ago with the small fishing villages that have grown into tourist hubs. Unfortunately, after the quake, 7.8 magnitude a week ago, these cities are now left almost in ruins.

    In Pedernales, 80 percent of buildings are destroyed and the mayor has told me, you know, now we're just going to have to start again from zero.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    How was the distribution of food, water, and other emergency supplies going?

  • SARA SCHAEFER MUNOZ:

    Initially, it was all right. The first day or two, the food seemed to be getting there. Water seemed to be getting there from local governments and from donations. But in the past couple of days, there's been severe delays. Many people now are being left without supplies, even though there are plenty of supplies coming into the country from other regions of the country and internationally.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Ecuador's economy was in a downturn before the quake. Can you talk about what was behind that and how it's going to affect that nation's ability to pay for recovery?

  • SARA SCHAEFER MUNOZ:

    Honestly, this could not come at a worst time for Ecuador. It was already undergoing a pretty major financial crisis. After growing, you know, as much as 4 percent a year over the past decade under the administration of President Rafael Correa and the high oil prices, it was now facing a contraction of about 4.6 percent this year.

    So, Ecuador was already on the brink of a pretty severe economic crisis when the earthquake struck, which is going to make rebuilding even more costly, more difficult, and could take quite a long time.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    I understand that the president has proposed or imposed a new tax to help pay for the recovery. Can you talk about his plan and how is it being received by the public?

  • SARA SCHAEFER MUNOZ:

    On Wednesday night, President Correa announced a tax. He said, you know, all Ecuadorians have to shoulder the burden of this earthquake. You know, it shouldn't be disproportionately placed on the people of the coastal areas. So, he said that sales — for years, he's going to raise sales tax from 12 percent to 14 percent, and then everybody has to give a percentage of their wages, depending on how much they make.

    But the taxes were not very well-received. Just yesterday, the mayor of Guayaquil, the major port city along the coast, said that if the country weren't in such an economic crisis, the taxes would make sense.

    But all this is going to do is slow the economy even more. People are going to consume less, buy less, and so forth. So, he was highly critical of the move.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    All right. Sara Schaefer Munoz from "The Wall Street Journal", thank you so much for joining us.

  • SARA SCHAEFER MUNOZ:

    Thank you.

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