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Ecuador President Will Raise Taxes to Fund Earthquake Recovery

by The Associated Press and Phil Helsel /  / Updated 
Image: Soldiers stand guard outside a collapsed building in Pedernales, after an earthquake struck off Ecuador's Pacific coast
Soldiers stand guard outside a collapsed building in Pedernales, after an earthquake struck off Ecuador's Pacific coast, on April 20, 2016.HENRY ROMERO / Reuters

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Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa says he will increase taxes to raise badly need funds to pay for rebuilding from the weekend's devastating earthquake.

In a televised address Wednesday night, Correa said he will use emergency decree powers created in the wake of the quake to raise sales taxes by 2 percentage points for a single year.

Taxes on millionaires and businesses will also be increased, while everyone earning more than $1,000 a month will have a day's wages deducted from their paycheck to help pay for reconstruction efforts.

Correa says the government will also look to sell some state assets.

Related: 'You Gave Me Life Again': Rare Rescues Drive Hope in Devastated Ecuador

At least 525 people died in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck near the country’s coast on Saturday, toppling buildings and a bridge overpass. At least one U.S. citizen and two Canadians were among those killed, officials said.

"These tears will help us move forward. We will not give up," Correa said earlier Wednesday. "I want to thank the people that have not slept for their commitment and work."

Fifty-four people have been rescued in the earthquake’s aftermath, Correa said.

Correa thanked volunteers who have pitched in to help with the recovery. There are 8,300 troops in disaster areas and 90 tankers are delivering water, he said.

Aftershocks have continued in the area. A magnitude-6.1 aftershock hit off the coast Wednesday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Saturday's quake destroyed or damaged about 1,500 buildings, triggered mudslides and left some 20,000 people homeless, the government said. President Barack Obama called Correa on Tuesday and said the U.S. is prepared to help in any way that it can, the White House said.

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