Ecuador declares state of emergency in provinces hit by earthquake, rains

Aftermath of an earthquake in Isla Puna
A family talks with neighbors near the damaged wall of their house following an earthquake in Isla Puna, Ecuador March 19, 2023. REUTERS/Maria Fernanda Landin

QUITO, March 21 (Reuters) - Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in 14 provinces worst affected by severe weather and a strong earthquake that shook the country over the weekend, the government said on Tuesday.

The measure adopted on Monday night will be in force for 60 days and will help authorities to mobilize economic resources to support the population and repair infrastructure.

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake on Saturday left at least 14 people dead and hundreds injured.

In addition, some 21 people have died, according to government data, as heavy rains destroyed roads, bridges, and public and private infrastructure.

A government statement said the people and sectors in the provinces where a state of emergency had been declared would be "attended to immediately" as they were the hardest hit by the weather and earthquake.

Lasso, a conservative in office since May 2021, also said he will issue a rental bonus for people who have lost their homes valid for a maximum of three months, and announced the construction of social housing.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; editing by Barbara Lewis

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