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Ecuador earthquake toll crosses 400

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QUITO — The Ecuadorian Government has raised the loss of life from its worst earthquake in decades to 413, as rescuers struggle to pull survivors from the piles of debris.

The magnitude 7.8 quake struck the South American country late on Saturday, shattering hotels and homes along its Pacific coast popular with tourists and reducing several towns to rubble.

More than 2,000 people were injured as buildings  tumbled during the quake or its dozens of aftershocks.

The capital Quito, further inland, escaped with cracked walls and power outages, and the country’s strategic oil facilities appeared unscathed, officials said.

But along the coast, the devastation prompted neighbouring Colombia, as well as quake-experienced Mexico and El Salvador, to rush in rescue personnel to help out.

Touring the city of Portoviejo, ravaged by the earthquake, the visibly moved and grim-faced Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said the cost of rebuilding would reach into the billions of dollars and the impact on the country’s fragile economy “could be huge”.

But the traumatised survivors Mr Correa met on his rounds had more immediate concerns. Many asked him for water.

Mr Correa made reference to the August 1949 earthquake near the central Ecuadoran city of Ambato that killed some 5,000 people and caused widespread destruction.

Reuters/AFP

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4 held with illegal pharmaceutical drugs

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SUNSARI — Police have arrested four people in possession of illegal pharmaceutical drugs at Dharan on Sunday.

Albert Gurung and Anish Tamang of Munal Chowk in Dharan-10, Nawaraj Gurung of Dharan-15 and Arun Chaudhary of Khanar in Itahari-11 were arrested on charge of smuggling and selling the illegal pharmaceutical drugs, according to the police.

The police arrested the accused during a routine check at Dharan-based Tinkune checkpost. The police have also recovered 630 ampules of nitrazepam, 140 ampules of nitrasone and seven bottles of dilex from the detainees.

The arrestees have been kept under the police custody for further investigation.

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