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Death toll rises to 272 after 7.8 quake hits Ecuador

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QUITO — The loss of life from the deadly earth quake in Ecuador has ascended to 272 however will rise further, President Rafael Correa said as he visited the debacle zone.

“Ecuador has been hit tremendously hard … This is the greatest tragedy in the last 67 years,” said a shaken Mr Correa, who rushed back to Ecuador from a visit to Italy.

“There are signs of life in much of the rubble and that is the priority,” he added in a televised address to the nation.

Rescuers were racing to dig out people trapped under the rubble of homes and businesses following the powerful magnitude-7.8 earthquake.

The quake reduced buildings to ruins, toppled power lines and sent terrified residents running from their homes when it struck the Pacific coast on Saturday in a zone popular with tourists.

Vice-President Jorge Glas called it the “worst seismic movement we have faced in decades”.

Officials quickly declared a state of emergency in the six worst-hit provinces.

The quake, felt across Ecuador, northern Peru and southern Colombia, struck at 6:58pm local time on Saturday, lasted for about a minute, and was centred approximately 170 kilometres north-west of the capital Quito.

No casualties were reported in Peru or Colombia.

Among the worst-hit towns was Pedernales, where about 40 hotels collapsed.

“Pedernales is devastated. Buildings have fallen down, especially hotels where there are lots of tourists staying. There are lots of dead bodies,” mayor Gabriel Alcivar told local media.

“We need help. We need medicine, water and food to help people.”

About 200 aftershocks of lesser intensity followed the quake.

“You could hear people screaming from the rubble,” Agustin Robles said as he waited in a line of 40 people for water outside a stadium in Pedernales.

“There was a pharmacy where people were stuck and we couldn’t do anything.”

Agencies

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Govt to present its policies and programmes Monday

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KATHMANDU — The government is preparing to present its policies and programs for the fiscal year 2018/19 at the Federal Parliament on Monday.

According to Joint Spokesperson at the Federal Parliament Secretariat Keshav Aryal, all preparations are over for the release of the government policies and programs to be made by the President Bidya Devi Bhandari from New Baneshwor-based Federal Parliament Building at 4:00 pm Monday.

President Bhandari would unveil the government policies and programs for the first time in the joint meeting of the Federal Parliament after the promulgation of the new constitution.

As per the constitution, the President can address any of the House meeting or the joint meeting of the Federal Parliaments and summon the lawmakers for their presence.

Vice President, top leaders of different political parties, high-ranking government officials, chiefs of the constitutional bodies, chiefs of the security bodies and chiefs of the diplomatic missions in Nepal are invited for the program.

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