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The strongest earthquake to strike the South American nation of Ecuador since 1979 has killed at least 233 people and left 588 injured as of Sunday morning.

The AP reported rescue workers were still trying to free people trapped after the quake caused widespread damage along the nation's Pacific coast.

The quake was felt throughout the country and Vice President Jorge Glas said there were deaths in the cities of Manta, Portoviejo, and Guayaquil, all farther out from the quake's epicenter.

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Videos from Guayaquil, the country's most populous city, showed residents pouring into the streets amid collapsed buildings. The AP reported at least one person in the city was killed when a highway overpass buckled and fell onto a car.

Closer to the epicenter, the AP reported towns such as Pedernales suffered from multiple building collapses, and rescuers worked through the night to try and dig out people trapped beneath the buildings.

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"We're trying to do the most we can, but there's almost nothing we can do," Pedernales Mayor Gabriel Alcivar told the AP. "This wasn't just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town."

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa cut short a visit to Rome to declare a national emergency and return home. The neighboring countries of Venezuela and Colombia have pledged to aid and assist Ecuador as it recovers.

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The 7.8-magnitude earthquake comes a day after a pair of lesser earthquakes caused severe damage across the world in Japan. At least 32 people were killed in those quakes, and rescuers were still looking for survivors as of Saturday.