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77 dead after magnitude 7.8 quake hits Ecuador

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QUITO — At least 77 people were killed and hundreds injured by the powerful 7.8 magnitude quake that struck the Pacific coastline late on Saturday, Ecuador’s VP said.

“As of now, the number of confirmed deaths reaches 77,” Jorge Glas said earlier today, in his latest earthquake update. He said more than 588 people are injured.

The tremor was felt across Ecuador and additionally in northern Peru and southern Colombia. Authorities have declared a state of emergency in Ecuador’s six worst-hit provinces.

“There is considerable (structural) damage in the area near the epicenter as well as points as far away as Guayaquil,” Ecuador’s Geophysical Office (IG) said.

Media published photographs of a bridge and the roof of a shopping center that collapsed in the port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s most populous city on the Pacific coast.

President Rafael Correa, on a visit to the Vatican, sent a message of support on Twitter.

“Authorities are already out evaluating damage and taking action” as needed,” he said.

Glas earlier said on Twitter that a national emergency committee had been activated.

With a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), the quake struck at 2358 GMT about 173 km west-northwest of Quito and just 28 kilometres south-southeast of Muisne, according to the US Geological Survey, which monitors earthquakes worldwide.

“Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 kilometres of the earthquake epicenter,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Buildings swayed in Quito but authorities did not immediately report injuries or damage.

The strong movement was felt in northern and southern parts of the Quito area, knocking out electricity in places.

Cristina Duran, 45, grabbed her three pets and stood under a large doorway to avoid shards of glass falling from shattered windows.

“I was frightened. And I just kept asking for it to be over,” she told AFP.

AFP

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Nirmala Panta’s murder accused held after 24 days

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KANCHANPUR — Police in Kanchanpur have made public an accused arrested in connection with the murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta of Kanchanpur’s Bhimdatta Municipality.

Dilip Singh Bista, 41, of Baghphanta, Bhimdatta Municipality was made public at a press conference at the DPO. Bista was arrested on Saturday,according to the District Police Office Spokesperson Deputy Superintendent of Police Gyan Bahadur Sethi.

Nirmala was found dead in a sugarcane field on July 27, a day after she had gone to her friend’s home to get a notebook.

Bista,who was released from prison last year after serving nine years for murdering his brother-in-law Narayansingh Thapa, works as a daily-wage labourer.

According to Bista’s statement to police, he helped Nirmala fix her bicycle chain before raping and killing her on July 26. He told police that killed her to avoid being arrested again.

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