At least 272 people were killed after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook coastal Ecuador in the largely poor Andean country on 16 April. A state of emergency was declared in six provinces, as the country faced 230 aftershocks that rattled survivors who huddled in the streets, worried that the flow of tremors could cause their homes to collapse, of which many had already been torn apart.

It has been described as the worst earthquake the country has seen since 1979, when 600 people were killed and 20,000 injured.

Ecuador earthquake
Rubble is seen in the city of Manta in Ecuador's Manabi province, after it was hit the day before by a 7.8-magnitude earthquakeAriel Ochoa/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
An elderly woman peers out of the window in her partially destroyed home in GuayaquilMarcos Pin Mendsez/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A woman prepares a shelter for her children in ChoneJuan Cevallos/ AFP

Among the areas which were heavily affected were Pedernales, Chone, Manta, Bahia de Carafe and Guayaquil – all of which saw emergency services and rescue teams search through the rubble to locate survivors who may be still be trapped. Pedernales, one of the worst hit towns, saw locals sleeping among the rubble in makeshift shelters, while rescue workers continue searching for survivors. Victims of the quake were forced to spend the night on mattresses or plastic chairs, taking shelter in the outdoors.

Ecuador earthquake
People rest in a park in the city of Guayaquil after the earthquakeMarcos Pin Mendez/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A man carries a matress in one PedernalesRodrigo Buendia/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A cracked road is seen after a 7.8-magnitude quake in Chone, EcuadorJuan Cevallos/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Rescue workers search the rubble after a 7.8-magnitude quake in Guayaquil, EcuadorLuis Acosta/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Survivors look on in the city of Manta in Ecuador's Manabi province, which was partially destroyed the day beforeAriel Ochoa/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Pedernales, one of Ecuador's worst hit townsRodrigo Buendia/ AFP

The country saw around 13,500 security personnel called to keep order among the devastated towns and cities which were hit by the quake. Members of the red cross charity arrived ai Eloy Alfaro airport to treat victims in makeshift shelters. According to Reuters, there were also a handful of unconfirmed reports of theft and looting, while the country dealt with the disaster. Inmates in El Rodeo prison in Portoviejo climbed over the collapsed walls and managed to escape – more than 35 were recaptured. Beyond a handful of unconfirmed reports of theft and looting, the country appeared calm.

Ecuador earthquake
Soldiers stand guard in MantaLuis Acosta/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Red Cross members arrive at Eloy Alfaro airport after the earthquake struckGuillermo Granja/ Reuters
Ecuador earthquake
People working at the Red Cross station treat survivors in the city of PedernalesRodrigo Buendia/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A boy is treated for injuries at the Red Cross station in PedernalesRodrigo Buendia/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A boy plays his guitar at the shelter in Manta a day after the earthquakeLuis Acosta/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
People sit in an armchair in Manta, a day after the earthquake hitLuis Acosta/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A girl rescues some of her belongings after the earthquake in MantaLuis Acosta/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
People prepare beds to spend the night after the 7.8-magnitude quake in Bahia de CaraqueJuan Cevallos/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A man moves his belongings a day after the earthquake in MantaLuis Acosta/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Rubble is scattered across the city of Manta in Ecuador's Manabi provinceAriel Ochoa/ AFP

The government has not provided an estimate of how many people are still missing. During a televised interview, President Rafael Correa expressed concerns that he feared the death toll would rise dramatically.

Ecuador earthquake
A car rolls on a cracked route after a 7.8-magnitude quake in ChoneJuan Cevallos/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A girl looks on at the damage caused by the earthquake in PedernalesRodrigo Buendia/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Rescue workers search the rubble in PedernalesRodrigo Buendia/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
People walking in a damaged building in GuayaquiMarcos Pin Mendsez/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Rescue workers search the rubble in PedernalesRodrigo Buendia/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Collapsed buildings are seen after the 7.8-magnitude quake in PortoviejoJuan Cevallos/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
Rescue workers search the rubble in PedernalesRodrigo Buendia/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A damaged building in the city of Manta in Ecuador's Manabi provinceAriel Ochoa/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A family rests on the street in Manta a day after the earthquakeLuis Acosta/ AFP
Ecuador earthquake
A collapsed control tower is seen a day after an earthquake struckGuillermo Granja/ Reuters
Ecuador earthquake
A firefighter walks past a collapsed buildingHenry Romero/ Reuters