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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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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

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