The number of victims of a strong earthquake in Ecuador has reached 14, in Peru – 1


QUITO, Ecuador – A powerful earthquake hit southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least 15 people, leaving others under rubble and sending rescue teams into rubble-strewn streets and downed power lines.

The US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered just off the Pacific coast about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city. One person died in Peru and 14 died in Ecuador, where authorities also reported at least 126 injuries.

Ecuador’s president, Guillermo Lasso, told reporters that the earthquake “undoubtedly … caused alarm among the population.” A statement from Lasso’s office said 12 of the victims died in the coastal state of El Oro and two in the mountainous state of Azuay.

In Peru, the earthquake was felt from the northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otarola said the 4-year-old girl died of head injuries she suffered when her house collapsed in the Tumbes region on the border with Ecuador.

According to the Secretariat of Risk Management, Ecuador’s emergency response agency, one of the victims in Azúa was a passenger in a car that was hit by debris from a house in the Andean community of Cuenca.

In El Oro, the agency also reported that several people remained under the rubble. A two-storey house in Machala community collapsed before people could evacuate, a pier gave way and the walls of the building cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.

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

Machala resident Fabricio Cruz said he was in his third-floor apartment when he felt a strong shock and saw his television set hit the ground. He immediately came out.

“I heard my neighbors screaming and there was a lot of commotion,” said Cruz, 34, a photographer. He added that when he looked around, he noticed the collapsed roofs of the nearby houses.

The Ecuadorian government also reported damage to health centers and schools. Lasso said he will be leaving for El Oro on Saturday.

In Guayaquil, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of the capital Quito, authorities reported cracks in buildings and houses, and some walls collapsed. Authorities ordered the closure of three transportation tunnels in Guayaquil that anchor the metro area, home to more than 3 million people.

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

One video posted online showed three of the show’s hosts arrow from their studio desk as the set rocked. They initially tried to shake it off as a small earthquake, but soon ran away from the camera. One host mentioned that the show was going to a commercial break, while another repeated, “Oh my God, oh my God.”

Luis Tomala was fishing with others when the earthquake struck. He said their boat started to move “like a running horse, we got scared and when we turned on the radio, we heard an earthquake.” That’s when his group, Tomala said, decided to stay at sea, fearing a tsunami might develop.

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

Peruvian authorities have reported that the old walls of an army barracks in Tumbes have collapsed.

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

Machala student Kathryn Cruz said her house shook so hard she couldn’t even get up to leave her room and run out into the street.

“It was terrible. I have never experienced anything like this in my life,” he said. ___

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

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