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The Ecuador earthquake killed at least 15 people, and caused widespread damage

The Ecuador earthquake killed at least 15 people, and caused widespread damage



A view of a damaged car after the cornice and balcony of a building located in the historic city center of Cuencas fall, killing one person and injuring another, following an earthquake in Cuenca, Ecuador on March 18, 2023 (Photo by FERNANDO MACHADO/AFP via Getty) I

Quito, Ecuador (AP) — A powerful earthquake rocked southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least 15 people, trapping others under rubble and sending rescue teams into streets strewn with rubble and downed power lines.

The USGS reported a 6.8-magnitude earthquake that had its epicenter 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 died in Ecuador, where authorities also reported that at least 126 people were injured.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso told reporters that the quake “undoubtedly caused concern among the population.” Laso’s office said in a statement that 12 of the victims died in the coastal state of El Oro and two in the highland state of Azuay.

A view of the wreckage after the earthquake in the city of Machala, Ecuador on March 18, 2023 (Photo by Glenn Suarez/AFP via Getty Images)

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 died from head trauma she suffered in the collapse of her home in the Tumbes region on the border with Ecuador.

Further Read: Watch: Football fans in Turkey throw toys onto the pitch for earthquake-affected children

According to the Risk Management Secretariat, Ecuador’s emergency response agency, one of the victims in Azuay was a passenger in a car that was smashed by rubble from a home in the Andean region of Cuenca.

In El Oro, the agency also reported that several people were trapped under the rubble. In the town of Machala, a two-storey house collapsed before people could evacuate, a sidewalk collapsed and the walls of the building cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.

Residents cry after an earthquake destroys buildings in the city of Machala, Ecuador on March 18, 2023 (Photo by Glenn Suarez/AFP via Getty Images)

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

Machala resident Fabricio Cruz said he was in his apartment on the third floor when he felt a strong jolt and saw his TV hit the floor. Head right away.

“I could hear how my neighbors were screaming and there was a lot of noise,” said Cruz, a 34-year-old photographer. He added that when he looked around, he noticed the rooftops of nearby houses collapsing.

Read more: The earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria created massive cracks in the Earth’s surface, images show

The Ecuadorian government also reported damage to health care centers and schools. Laso said he will travel to El Oro on Saturday.

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

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

One video posted online showed three presenters parading from their studio desk while the set shook. They initially try to dismiss it as a simple earthquake but quickly flee the camera. One announcer noted that the show would be on commercial hiatus, while another repeated “Oh my God, my God”.

Luis Tomalla was hunting with others when the earthquake struck. Their boat started moving “like a racehorse,” he said, “we got scared, and when we turned on the radio, we heard about the earthquake.” Tumala said his group then decided to stay at sea, fearing a tsunami.

A report from Ecuador’s Directorate for Adverse Event Control ruled out a tsunami threat.

Peruvian authorities said the old walls of a military barracks had collapsed in Tumbes.

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

Katherine Cruz, a student from Machala, said her house shook so badly that she couldn’t even get up to leave her room and flee to the street.

“It was awful,” she said. “I’ve never felt anything like this in my life.” ___

Associated Press writers Regina Garcia Cano in Caracas, Venezuela, and Franklin Briceño in Lima, Peru, contributed to this report.




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