March 30, 2023

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6.5 magnitude earthquake kills 14 in Ecuador and Peru

A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck southern Ecuador and neighboring Peru, killing at least 14 people, injuring many and damaging buildings, according to official records.

The quake struck at 12:12 local time (16:12 GMT) and had its epicenter in the Ecuadorian municipality of Palau, about 140 km from the port of Guayaquil, and a depth of 44 km, officials said.

The Ecuadorian presidency posted a death toll of 12 on Twitter, with 11 deaths in El Oro province and one in Azue province. He also pointed out that “injured people are receiving timely treatment in hospitals,” but did not give figures.

A four-year-old girl died after being hit on the head with a brick in Tumbes, Peru, bordering Ecuador, according to official reports.

“Where there is a pool of blood, I was playing with my other niece and a block fell on her,” the child’s uncle, David Alvarado, told AFP.

The quake was felt most strongly in southern Ecuador, where people took to the streets. One of the most affected cities was Cuenca.

“People ran out, shouting in desperation, everyone got out of their cars (…) Desperate, they ran, screamed, cried,” Magali Escandon, a sewing goods seller in the Andean town, told AFP.

In Cuenca, the facade of a house collapsed onto a vehicle and “one person died”. In El Oro province, three people died after a tower collapsed, according to Ecuador’s risk management secretariat.

The earthquake caused buildings to collapse, walls to crack, and vehicles to be crushed by the debris. In the historic center of Cuenca, some old houses were damaged. Some roads near the municipality were cut off due to landslides.

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According to users on social networks, other cities such as Quito, Manabi and Manta also felt the tremors.

Ecuador’s president, Guillermo Lasso, took to Twitter to “appeal for calm and for information through official channels.”

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the event had a magnitude of 6.8.

In a statement, the Chilean government expressed its “solidarity” with victims in Ecuador and said there had been no reports of Chileans being affected by the earthquake.

With less intensity, the earthquake occurred along the northern and central coast of Peru. In Tumbes, it has affected 46 people and 12 houses, according to an official report.

The country’s seismological authorities said the quake had a magnitude of 7.0 at the time of the quake, but revised it down to 6.7 hours later.

Two per year

Since afternoon, firefighters and police have been clearing debris and rescuing victims.

Memories of the devastating 2016 earthquake are still in the air in Ecuador. At a magnitude of 7.8, the earthquake killed 673 people and devastated coastal areas, with losses estimated at $3.3 billion.

“It’s a relatively high magnitude for what we have in the country. In the Gulf of Guayaquil, we’ve had more or less two earthquakes since 2017 that exceed 5.0 magnitude per year,” Mario Ruiz said. , Director of the Geophysical Institute Ecuador, in an interview with FM Mundo radio.

According to the Ecuadorian Navy’s Maritime and Antarctic Institute, the tremor “does not meet the necessary conditions to generate a tsunami” in the Pacific.