18 March 2023

At least 12 killed as strong earthquake shakes coastal Ecuador

18 March 2023

A strong earthquake shook the region around Ecuador’s second-largest city on Saturday, killing at least 12 people, damaging homes and buildings, and sending panicked residents into the streets.

The US Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 in the country’s coastal Guayas region. It was centred about 50 miles (80 kilometres) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city.

Videos shared on social media show people gathering on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities.

The South American country’s emergency response agency, the Risk Management Secretariat, reported one person died in the Andean community of Cuenca. The victim was a passenger in a vehicle trapped under the rubble of a house.

President Guillermo Lasso tweeted a message asking residents to remain calm.

In the coastal state of El Oro, three people died and several were trapped under rubble. In the community of Machala, a two-story home collapsed before people could evacuate and a building’s walls cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.

The agency said firefighters worked to rescue people while the National Police assessed damage, their work made more difficult by downed lines that interrupted telephone and electricity service.

People reported objects falling inside their homes in Guayaquil, part of an urban area of more than three million people about 170 miles (270 kilometres) south west of the capital, Quito.

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

A pier sank in the city of Machala. The earthquake was also felt in northern Peru.

One video posted online showed three anchors of a television show dart from their studio desk as the set shook. They initially tried to shake it off as a minor quake but soon fled off camera.

One anchor indicated the show would go on a commercial break, while another repeated, “My God, my God.”

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