At least 350 people have been declared dead after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador on Saturday evening, and more than 2,500 are believed injured. Rescue operations are still underway, as more than 10,000 troops and 4,600 police personnel have been pressed into service, local news agencies reported. Officials said the toll is likely to rise as more information comes in from remote areas.

The country’s President Rafael Correa cut short a trip to the Vatican in Italy to be home to handle the crisis. On Twitter, he said "Thank you to the whole world for solidarity. Our infinite love to the families of the dead.” He said there was evidence that people are alive under the rubble of buildings, BBC reported, and has visited some areas hit by the disaster.

Ecuador's ally Venezuela sent aircraft loaded with food and water, as well as teams of doctors, paramedics. Neighbouring country Colombia also sent in supplies. The cities worst affected were Portoviejo and Pedernales, where several buildings collapsed and access was blocked as road services got cut off.