Ecuador earthquake kills at least four, causes widespread damage

QUITO, Ecuador – A strong earthquake rocked southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least four people and others trapped under rubble as rescuers rushed into streets strewn with debris and downed power lines. dispatched.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered off the Pacific coast about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Ecuador’s second largest city, Guayaquil.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso tweeted a message urging residents to keep calm.

According to the Risk Management Secretariat, the South American national emergency response agency, one of the victims was a passenger in a car that was crushed by debris from an Andean community home in Cuenca.

In the coastal province of El Oro, officials said three people had died and several were trapped under rubble. In Machala’s community, his two-story house collapsed before people were evacuated, the pier collapsed, and the walls of the building cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.

Firefighters were working to rescue people while national police assessed the damage, the agency said, but their work was made more difficult by downed lines that disrupted telephone and electricity services. became.

In Guayaquil, about 270 kilometers southwest of the capital Quito, authorities reported cracks in buildings and houses and some walls collapsed. Authorities have ordered the closure of his three vehicle tunnels in Guayaquil, which support a metropolitan area of ​​more than three million people.

Videos shared on social media show people gathering on the streets of Guayaquil and in nearby communities. People reported falling objects into their homes.

One video posted online showed the three Show Darts anchors from their studio desks as the set rocked. They initially tried to shake it off as a minor earthquake, but quickly fled the cameras. God,” he repeated.

A report from Ecuador’s Adverse Events Monitoring Agency ruled out a tsunami threat.

The quake was also felt in Peru from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. No casualties were reported immediately. In the northern region of Tumbes, an old wall of an army barracks has collapsed, officials said.

Ecuador is a particularly earthquake-prone country. In 2016, more than 600 people were killed in an earthquake centered in a sparsely populated area further north on the Pacific coast.

Gonzalo Solano