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Ecuador quake toll rises to more than 400

dpadpa 18/04/2016

Five people have been rescued from the rubble following Ecuador's 7.8-magnitude earthquake, while the death toll has risen to 413.

The death toll from Ecuador's strongest earthquake in decades has risen steadily as rescuers race to find survivors amid widespread destruction along the north-western Pacific coast.

Ecuador's Ministry of Security says 413 people have been confirmed dead as of late Monday, while authorities elsewhere say five people have been pulled alive from ruins.

Emergency management agency SNGR says an additional 231 people are still missing and presumed to be trapped or buried under buildings that collapsed in the 7.8-magnitude quake on Saturday evening near the provincial capital of Portoviejo, 170 kilometres north-west of the capital, Quito.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa called the quake the worst catastrophe the country has experienced in 67 years.

After surveying the region by helicopter on Monday, he described the cities of Portoviejo and Manta as very nearly "destroyed".

In Manta, a city of 200,000 near the quake's epicentre, four people were rescued after surviving 30 hours trapped in the rubble of a building destroyed by the earthquake, Mayor Jorge Zambrano said.

Rescuers pulled another person alive from the ruins of a hotel in Portoviejo, the security ministry said.

Military units, police, firefighters and volunteers continued to dig through the ruins searching for signs of life.

Firefighters from across Ecuador have joined the rescue efforts, as well as more than 450 international disaster specialists from across Latin America as well as Switzerland and Spain.

The European Union offered 1 million euros ($A1.46 million) in emergency aid.

EU-coordinated disaster teams began to deploy to Ecuador early on Monday, the European Commission said.

Hundreds of aftershocks, several of them magnitude 5 or greater, have rattled the country in the two days since the quake.

Ecuador is located on the so-called Pacific "ring of fire" and has a history of large earthquakes.

Since 1900, seven magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes have had an epicentre within 250 kilometres of the latest tremor, according to the US Geological Survey.

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