Strong earthquake kills at least 14 in Ecuador, 1 in Peru

A strong earthquake An earthquake shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least 15 people, trapping others under rubble, and sending rescue teams into streets littered with debris and downed power lines.

The US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.8 earthquake that was centered off the Pacific coast about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second largest city. One of the victims died in Peru, while 14 others were killed in Ecuador, where officials also reported that at least 126 people were injured.

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A man photographs a collapsed building after the earthquake in Machala, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Johnny Crespo)

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A police officer stands next to a car crushed by debris after an earthquake in Cuenca, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Javier Cavinagua)

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso told reporters that the earthquake “without a doubt … caused alarm in the population.” Lasso’s office said in a statement that 12 of the victims died in the coastal state of El Oro and two in the mountainous state of Ajuay.

In Peru, the earthquake was felt from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otarola said a 4-year-old girl had died from head injuries in the collapse of her home in the Tumbes region. border with Ecuador,

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One of the victims in Azuay was a passenger in a vehicle crushed by debris from a home in the Andean community of Cuenca, according to Ecuador’s emergency response agency, the Risk Management Secretariat.

In El Oro, the agency also reported that several people were buried under the rubble. In the community of Machala, a two-story house collapsed before residents could evacuate, a pier collapsed and a building collapsed walls, trapping an unknown number of people.

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The US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.7 earthquake about 50 miles south of Guayaquil. (AP Photo/Javier Cavinagua)

the agency said firefighters worked While the national police were assessing the damage to rescue people, their task was made more difficult by the disruption of telephone and electricity service.

Machala resident Fabricio Cruz said he was in his third-floor apartment when he felt a strong quake and saw his television fall to the ground. He immediately went out.

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“I heard my neighbors screaming and there was a lot of noise,” said Cruz, a 34-year-old photographer. He said that when he looked around, he saw the roofs of nearby houses collapsed.

The government of Ecuador has also reported damage to health care centers and schools. Lasso said he would travel to El Oro on Saturday.

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The US Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a magnitude of about 6.8, centered off the Pacific coast about 50 miles (80 km) south of Guayaquil. (AP Photo/George Sanchez)

In Guayaquil, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of the capital Quito, officials reported cracks in buildings and homes, as well as some collapsed walls. Authorities ordered the closure of three vehicular tunnels in Guayaquil, which anchors a metro area of ​​more than 3 million people.

Videos shared on social media showed people gathering in the streets of Guayaquil and surrounding communities. People reported falling objects inside their homes.

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A video posted online showed the three anchors of the show dart from their studio desks as the set shook. He initially tried to pass it off as a minor earthquake but soon shied away from the camera. One anchor indicated that the show would go off commercial, while another repeated, “My God, my God.”

Luis Tomala was fishing with others when the earthquake struck. He said his boat started rocking “like a racehorse, we got scared, and when we turned on the radio, we heard an earthquake.” Tomala said that’s when his group decided to stay at sea. fear of tsunami may develop.

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Household items float in water after an earthquake in Machala, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Feijoo)

A report by Ecuador’s Adverse Events Monitoring Directorate denied the threat of a tsunami.

Peruvian officials said the old walls of an army barracks in Tumbes collapsed.

Ecuador is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. In 2016, an earthquake centered far north Pacific Coast More than 600 people were killed in the country’s most populous region.

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Machala student Katherine Cruz said her house shook so badly she couldn’t even get out of her room and run out into the street.

“It was terrible. I had never felt like this in my life,” she said.

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