Saturday, November 4, 2023

Ecuador Quake Kills 13, Peru 1, Causes Damage


At least 14 people have been killed and over 100 injured after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck Ecuador’s coastal Guayas region on Saturday. The tremor was centred around 80km south of Guayaquil, the country’s second-largest city. The earthquake was also felt in Peru, where one person was reported dead. The tremor did not appear likely to generate a tsunami, authorities said. The initial earthquake was followed by two weaker aftershocks in the following hour, according to the Geophysics Institute of Ecuador.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso told reporters the earthquake had “without a doubt … generated alarm in the population”. His office said that “all the ministries are activated and have sufficient economic resources to immediately repair earthquake damage”. The earthquake killed 13 people in Ecuador, while at least one person was reported dead in Peru. Authorities in Ecuador also reported that at least 126 people were injured.

In Peru, the earthquake was felt from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otarola said a four-year-old girl died from head trauma she suffered in the collapse of her home in the Tumbes region, on the border with Ecuador.

“We all ran out into the streets … we were very scared,” Ernesto Alvarado, a resident of Isla Puna near the epicentre, told the Reuters news agency, adding that some homes had collapsed. One of the victims in Ecuador’s Azuay was a passenger in a vehicle crushed by rubble from a house in the Andean community of Cuenca, according to the Risk Management Secretariat, the country’s emergency response agency.

In El Oro, the agency also reported that several people were trapped under rubble. In the community of Machala, a two-storey home collapsed before people could evacuate, a pier gave way, and a building’s walls cracked, trapping an unknown number of people. The agency said firefighters worked to rescue people while the National Police assessed damage, their work made more difficult by downed lines that interrupted telephone and electricity service.

Ecuador’s government also reported damage to healthcare centres and schools. Lasso said he would travel on Saturday to El Oro. In Guayaquil, about 270km southwest of the capital, Quito, authorities reported cracks in houses and other buildings as well as some collapsed walls. Authorities ordered the closure of three road tunnels.

Videos shared on social media show people gathered on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities. People reported objects falling inside their homes. One video posted online showed three television show presenters darting from their studio desk as the set shook. They initially tried to shake it off as a minor quake but soon fled off-camera. One presenter indicated the show would go on a commercial break while another repeated, “My God. My God.”

Ecuador is particularly prone to earthquakes. In 2016, a quake centred farther north on the Pacific Coast in a more sparsely populated area of the country killed more than 600 people.

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