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Death toll from Ecuador’s earthquake reaches 600

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QUITO — The loss of life from Ecuador’s devastating magnitude 7.8 quake has risen to 602 people, as as dozens of aftershocks shook cities and towns around the country, spooking residents but causing no further damage.

Last Saturday’s quake, the worst in nearly seven decades, injured 12,492 people and left 130 missing, emergency management authorities said in a bulletin.

Survivors were shaken again late on Thursday night when a powerful magnitude 6.0 quake struck off Ecuador’s coast around 100 kilometers north-north-west of Portoviejo and at a depth of 10 kilometers.

“When it started to shake last night we started to pray,” said Alex Bachon, 43, a construction worker repairing damage from the first quake at a hotel in Guayaquil.

“I have never seen anything like this, it’s been so bad.”

There were more than 70 aftershocks throughout Thursday night and Friday, the country’s geology institute reported.

There have been a total of 700 aftershocks since last Saturday’s quake.

The tremors will continue for several weeks, emergency management official Ricardo Penaherrera warned on Friday, and he called on Ecuadoreans to stay calm.

Survivors in the quake zone were receiving food, water and medicine from the Government and scores of foreign aid workers, though President Rafael Correa acknowledged that bad roads delayed aid to some communities.

With close to 7,000 buildings destroyed, more than 26,000 people were living in shelters. Some 14,000 security personnel were keeping order in quake-hit area, with only sporadic looting reported.

Officials say 113 survivors have been rescued from the rubble but hopes of finding more are slim.

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Two held on charge of girls trafficking

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BETRAWATI— Police have arrested two persons for their alleged involvement in trafficking five adolescent girls aged between 13 to 16 — to India.

The arrestees have been identified as Nirmal Biswakarma (23) of Bheriganga Municipality-12 of Surkhet and Bikas Pyakurel (20) of Chaughada in Likhu Rural Municipality-4 of Nuwakot.

The Surkhet Police had arrested Biswokarma from his home while rescuing the captive girls on Friday and produced him before court on Saturday.

Likewise, acting on the statement of the captive girls, police arrested Pyakurel from Battar Bazaar, Nuwakot on Sunday.

According to District Police Office Chief Basanta Kunwar, a case related to human trafficking was registered against them on Sunday and investigation into the case was expedited from the Nuwakot District Court.

It has been learnt that the duo lured the girls, on their way to play Bhailo on Laxmi Puja, by promising them good jobs in India and transported them to Surkhet.

The rescued girls have been kept at a shelter of Women and Children Service Centre of Nepal Police.

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