A search-and-rescue dog has become the latest casualty to come out of the ongoing tragedy from Ecuador’s devastating 7.8 magnitude.
Dayko, a 4-year old white Labrador retriever with the Ibara fire service, died last Friday after spending his final days rescuing at least seven people from the rubble created by last week’s tremor.
Dayko, who had been with the city’s fire department for three-and-a-half years, died from a “massive coronary myocardial infarction and acute respiratory failure” from his rescue work, the fire department said.
"We regret to inform you that today the [fire service] is in mourning because [we] just lost Dayko who participated in the work of searching in Pedernales," the fire service said on its Facebook page. "This four-legged friend gave his life in the line of duty. Thank you Dayko for your heroic efforts in Pedernales and in various emergencies where you were present…You held high the name of the K9 unit."
The death toll from last week's magnitude-7.8 earthquake that flattened towns along Ecuador's coast has risen to at least 654 with another 58 people still missing.
The website of the secretariat for risk management said that 113 people had been rescued alive following the quake and more than 25,000 people remained in shelters.
Ecuador's quake is the deadliest in South America since 1999, when a tremor in Colombia killed more than 1,000 people.
Hundreds of aftershocks have rattled the country since last Saturday night's quake and Ecuadoreans are still sleeping outside and struggling to find food and water. Aid is arriving from abroad but relief workers have warned of delays in water distribution and said mosquito-borne illness could spread through the camps.
President Rafael Correa has said the quake caused $3 billion in damage and warned that the reconstruction effort will take years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.