Last Updated: March 19, 2023, 07:39 IST
Destroyed buildings are seen after an earthquake in the city of Machala, Ecuador on March 18, 2023. (AFP)
Destroyed buildings, crushed vehicles and debris could be seen in cities such as Machala and Cuenca in Ecuador, as rescue officials rushed to lend aid
At least 14 people were killed in a strong earthquake that shook a coastal region of Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, causing structural damage to multiple homes, schools and medical centers.
The quake, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) measured at magnitude 6.8, struck at a depth of 66.4 km (41.3 miles) about 10 km (6.2 miles) from the city of Balao in the province of Guayas.
The earthquake did not appear likely to generate a tsunami, authorities said.
”We remain in the territory verifying the damage caused by the earthquake this morning. I want to confirm that I am with you and express my solidarity and commitment to the victims,” Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said in a tweet.
The presidency’s communication agency said the quake left 14 people dead, and more than 380 people were injured, largely in the El Oro province.
The agency said at least 44 homes were destroyed, while 90 more were damaged. Around 50 educational buildings and more than 30 health centers were also affected, while 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 one death in Azuay province occurred when a wall collapsed on to a vehicle. In other provinces, structural damage included a collapsed wharf and a fallen wall in a supermarket.
State-run oil company Petroecuador had evacuated and suspended activities in multiple facilities out of precaution, but had not reported damage, the agency said.
”We all ran out into the streets… we were very scared,” Ernesto Alvarado, a resident of Isla Puna near the epicenter, told Reuters, adding that some homes had collapsed.
The initial quake was followed by two weaker aftershocks in the following hour, according to the Geophysics Institute of Ecuador.
Peruvian authorities said the quake was felt in the country’s northern region, but there were no immediate reports of harm to people or structures.
The earthquake shook the north and central coasts of Peru with less intensity. In Tumbes, it damaged 12 homes, according to an official report.
“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.
Peruvian seismological authorities initially reported a magnitude of 7.0, but hours later downgraded the magnitude to 6.7.
A first aftershock of magnitude 4.8 was recorded in Balao, Ecuador. The Ecuadoran navy said there was no tsunami threat.
In 2016, a quake with a magnitude of 7.8 hit Ecuador’s western provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas, killing 673 people and causing an estimated $3 billion in damage.
(With inputs from agencies)
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)