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One year after: Ecuador marks anniversary of devastating 2016 earthquake

It was one year ago tonight that Ecuador’s north coast was ravaged by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. The quake was felt throughout Ecuador, most of Colombia and the northern half of Peru.

Within seconds, 673 people were dead, 4,000 were injured and more than 30,000 residents of Manabí and Esmeraldas Provinces left homeless. Total damage was estimated at $3.5 billion, making the quake the most costly natural disaster in the country’s history.

Construction workers last week in Bahía de Caráquez.

Today, churches along the north coast will host services not only celebrating Easter, but to remember those who died in 2016 and those who lost their homes and businesses.

“We will be at a mass tomorrow remembering the fallen, remembering the terrible tragedy of a year ago, remembering the pain, but also remembering the hope we had to rebuild lives,” President Rafael Correa said Saturday in his weekly Citizens Link in Pedernales, the epicenter of the earthquake. “Today, the Ecuadorian people are resurrecting, we are going forward in Manabí and in Esmeraldas, from the pain, from the ashes, from the rubble we are rising.”

President-elect Lenin Moreno will attend mass near Manta, in a newly built development that houses many of those who lost their homes in the earthquake.

Although scars from the earthquake remain starkly visible, so does the construction rebuilding homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The government has invested almost $2.5 billion in public housing, schools, hospitals and roads, as well as providing low interest loans for business owners.

“We have a long way to go,” Correa said Saturday. “But we can be proud that we have come a very long way from April 16 of last year.”

The following are images from the earthquake zone, one year ago.