The 7.8 level earthquake that struck the Pacific coast of Ecuador a week ago continues to claim victims. To date, there are 646 dead, 130 missing and 12 500 injured. The damage to homes and infrastructure runs in the billions.
The massive earthquake struck at the eastern edge of the Pacific plate where it slides under the South American plate. It was felt strongly in Quito located inland in the mountains. For awhile a tsunami warning was issued, but fortunately, none resulted.
The area has been shaken by more than 700 aftershocks, some of them powerful in their own right. On Thursday a 6.0 quake rocked the coastline.
The country is trying to deliver clean water, food and emergency supplies, but damage to roadways is making the task difficult.
Earthquakes occur when the Earth’s tectonic plates shift suddenly. The Earth is a dynamic planet and the crust is constantly shifting. When a large shift occurs rapidly, it causes earthquakes. The Pacific plate is diving below the S. American and N. American plates. Earthquakes and mountain building as well as volcanoes result.
Two days after the 7.8 quake in Ecuador, the famous Mexican volcano, Popocatepetl erupted sending smoke and ash into the air. It settled down again after a few hours. Many other volcanoes line the west coasts of the Americas. Some are extinct, some dormant, but some are quite active. Popocatepetl is one of them. It is particularly dangerous as a full-fledged eruption could threaten Mexico City which has a population of about 25 million.
The rebuilding efforts must begin, but the country of 16 million is facing hard economic times. They rely heavily on their oil revenues to run the country, but have been hit with lower prices and lower demand for their product. President Rafael Correa has announced a 2% increase in the sales tax as well as measures to levy a charge against those making more than the equivalent of USD$1000 per month, ranging from one day’s wages to a portion of total wealth.
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