QUITO (AP) — A strong earthquake struck the coastal area of Ecuador on Saturday, killing at least 12 people, injuring several and leaving other people trapped under rubble, as well as damaging buildings and the Andean country’s electrical system, authorities reported. .
The United States Geological Survey reported the magnitude 6.7 movement shortly after noon in the coastal region of Guayas, with its epicenter about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso reported in the afternoon on the death toll so far and some wounded who are being treated in hospitals. “We have made the decision that all the ministries are activated” to provide help and work on the reconstruction of the affected houses, he said.
The Risk Management Secretariat previously confirmed that a person died in the city of Cuenca, 310 kilometers south of the capital, after a vehicle circulating on the street was left under rubble due to the collapse of the second floor of a house in full colonial center of that Andean city.
While in the coastal province of El Oro, 11 people died and several are still trapped under the rubble, according to the report provided by the president. In that area, some houses collapsed, a dock was destroyed and the walls and columns of a bank building cracked, trapping an unknown number of people, according to the Risk Management Secretariat.
Firefighters worked to rescue people while the National Police assessed the damage, although the work was hampered by downed lines that interrupted telephone and electricity service, it was reported.
In Guayaquil, about 270 kilometers (170 miles) southwest of the capital Quito, cracks were reported in buildings and homes, as well as some collapsed walls. Authorities ordered the closure of three vehicular tunnels in Guayaquil, which anchors a metropolitan area of more than 3 million people.
Videos shared on social media show people gathering on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities. People reported that objects fell inside their houses.
Fabricio Cruz, a 34-year-old photographer, told The Associated Press by telephone that he was in his third-floor apartment in a western part of the coastal city of Machala when he felt a strong tremor and saw how his television fell to the ground, “ So I left my house with the first thing I found at hand and I heard how my neighbors were shouting and there was a lot of noise”. He added that when he got to the street he found some roofs of nearby houses collapsed.
The earthquake took place at 12:53 p.m. (1753 GMT) in an area located near Puná Island, with a very low population density. The quake was also felt in Peru, from the border with Ecuador to the central Peruvian Pacific coast. The regions of Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque and Ancash were shaken by the seismic movement, although at the moment no material or human damage is known. In Tumbes, the old walls of an Army barracks collapsed, but without causing damage or victims, indicated the civil defense.
On April 16, 2016, a powerful earthquake off the central coast of the country left nearly 680 dead, serious destruction in cities such as Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales, among others, and damages of around 1.5 billion dollars throughout the country. according to the authorities.
Associated Press writers Regina García Cano and Franklin Briceño contributed to this report from Caracas and Lima, respectively.