Experts to evaluate quake damage in Ecuador

Quito: A team of experts from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will arrive in Ecuador to evaluate the damage caused by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on April 16, an official said. The team would create a document to measure the full economic extent of the damage, in order to establish the amount of money needed for reconstruction, said Oscar Bello, coordinator of ECLAC's disasters unit, on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported. The earthquake has left at least 655 people dead, 4,605 more injured, 41 others missing and 29,067 people in shelters along Ecuador's northern coast, according to the latest government statistics. President Rafael Correa has estimated the reconstruction cost at more than $3 billion.  Last week, he anticipated the reconstruction would take years and cost billions of dollars, calling for the construction of semi-permanent shelters to house thousands of people. According to Bello, the ECLAC group will look at the actual damage, lost generation of economic growth, and additional costs such as public and private funds used to compensate for the losses. The final report the experts' group produces will serve as ECLAC's recommendations to the Ecuadorian government. "This diagnosis will obviously be accompanied by policies and a strategy to help the country overcome in the medium-term the consequences of this event," said Bello. Bello estimated the final ECLAC report would be ready in six weeks, warning that reconstruction of the affected zones would not be a swift process.