Powerful quakes devastate life in Ecuador and Japan

Rescue work still underway to pull out people from collapsed buildings, while tens of thousands rendered homeless.

| Earthquake, Japan, Latin America, Ecuador, Asia Pacific

Rescue operations are still underway in Japan and Ecuador following powerful earthquakes that caused massive damage to property and loss of life in the two countries.

Two quakes struck Japan within a span of 24 hours, with a series of aftershocks rocking southern Japan's Kyushu island. At least 42 people are known to have died and more than 110,000 people remained displaced.

Ecuador was hit by a magnitude 7.8 quake, which was felt around the Andean nation of 16 million people, causing panic as far away as the highland capital Quito and destroying buildings, bridges and roads.

Rescuers intensified the hunt for nine people still missing in a devastated village in southern Japan on Monday, with time running out after the earthquakes left buildings in rubble and houses buried in mud.

Up to 25,000 personnel have fanned out through villages where scores of traditional-style houses have been left in ruins by Saturday's magnitude 7.0 quake, which struck a part of Japan not used to such tremors.

Many of the evacuees have been forced to sleep in temporary accommodation or huddled in makeshift shelters.

The death toll from Ecuador's biggest earthquake in decades soared as survivors cobbled together makeshift coffins to bury loved ones, lined up for water and sought shelter beside the rubble of their shattered homes.

"This is the greatest tragedy in the last 67 years," said a shaken President Rafael Correa, who rushed back to Ecuador from a visit to Italy.

There were more than 200 aftershocks, mainly in the Pedernales area. A state of emergency was declared in six provinces.

The quake has piled pain on the economy of OPEC's smallest member, already reeling from low oil prices, with economic growth this year projected at near-zero.

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