Deaths after powerful earthquake hits Ecuador and northern Peru – The Guardian


6.7 magnitude tremors shook an area 80km south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second largest city, killing at least four people

Associated Press

Saturday 18 March 2023 at 21:09 GMT

A powerful earthquake shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least four people, trapping others under rubble and sending rescue teams onto roads littered with debris and downed power lines.

The US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in the country’s coastal Guayas region. Its center was about 80 kilometers south of Guayaquil, which has a metropolitan area of ​​more than 3 million people.

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

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

In the coastal province of El Oro, three people died and several were trapped under debris, the agency reported. In the community of Machala, a two-story house collapsed before people could evacuate, a pier gave way and the walls of a building caved in, trapping an unknown number of people.

The agency said firefighters were working to save people while national police assessed the damage. Their work was complicated by downed wires that disrupted phone and electricity service.

In Guayaquil, about 170 miles southwest of the capital Quito, authorities reported cracks on buildings and houses and some collapsed walls. The authorities ordered the closure of three vehicle tunnels.

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

A video posted online showed three TV presenters arrow from her studio table as her set shook. They initially tried to dismiss the tremors as minor tremors, but soon fled the camera. One host hinted that the show would be going on a commercial break, while another reiterated, “My god, my god.”

A report by the Ecuadorian Directorate for Surveillance of Adverse Events ruled out a tsunami risk.

The earthquake was also felt in Peru, from the northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. No dead or injured were immediately reported. In the northern region of Tumbes, the old walls of an army barracks collapsed, authorities said.

Ecuador is particularly prone to earthquakes. In 2016, an earthquake concentrated farther north on the Pacific coast in a sparsely populated area of ​​the country killed more than 600 people.