QUITO – At least 12 people were killed in an earthquake that shook a coastal region of Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, causing structural damage to multiple homes, schools and medical centres.
“Emergency teams are mobilising to offer all their support to those who have been affected,” said Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso in a tweet.
The quake, which the US Geological Survey measured at magnitude 6.8, struck at a depth of 66.4km about 10km from the city of Balao in the province of Guayas, near the border with Peru
“It is a relatively high magnitude for what we have in the country,” said Mario Ruiz, director of the Ecuadorian Geophysical Institute in an interview with FM Mundo radio.
Destroyed buildings, crushed vehicles and debris could be seen in cities such as Machala and Cuenca, AFP reported, as rescue officials rushed to lend aid and panicked residents ran into the streets.
The tremor was also felt in other cities including Guayaquil, Quito, Manabi and Manta, social media reports said.
The earthquake did not appear likely to generate a tsunami, the authorities said.
The presidency’s communication agency said that the quake left 11 people dead in the province of El Oro and one fatality in Azuay province, while multiple people were being treated for injuries in hospitals.
The agency also said multiple homes, educational buildings and health centres had been damaged and that multiple roadways were blocked by landslides caused by the earthquake.
The Santa Rosa airport suffered minor damage, but remained in operation.
Ecuador’s Secretariat of Risk Management said in an earlier statement that the death in Azuay province occurred when a wall collapsed on to a vehicle.
In other provinces, structural damage included a collapsed wharf and a collapsed wall in a supermarket.
The agency said that state-run oil company Petroecuador had evacuated and suspended activities in multiple facilities out of precaution, but had not reported damage.
“We all ran out into the streets… we were very scared,” Ernesto Alvarado, a resident of Isla Puna near the epicentre, told Reuters, adding that some homes had collapsed.
The initial quake was followed by two weaker aftershocks, according to the Geophysics Institute of Ecuador.
Peruvian authorities said that the quake was felt in the country’s northern region, and that there were no immediate reports of harm to people or structures.
REUTERS and AFP