Strong earthquake in Ecuador kills at least 4 people

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — A strong earthquake rocked the region around Ecuador’s second-largest city on Saturday, killing at least four people, damaging homes and buildings and sending panicked residents into the streets.

The US Geological Survey reported a 6.7 magnitude earthquake in the coastal region of Guayas. It was centered about 80 kilometers south of Guayaquil, which anchors a metropolitan area of ​​over 3 million people.

President Guillermo Lasso tweeted a message asking residents to stay calm.

The South American country’s emergency response agency, the Secretariat for Risk Management, reported that one person died in the Andean community of Cuenca. The victim was a passenger in a vehicle stuck under the rubble of a house. Three other people died in the coastal state of El Oro, the agency reported.

Rescue workers stand next to a car crushed by debris after an earthquake in Cuenca, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023. The US Geological Survey reported a 6.7 magnitude earthquake about 50 miles south of Guayaquil. (AP Photo/Xavier Caivinagua)

In Guayaquil, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Quito, authorities reported cracks in buildings and homes, as well as collapsed walls. Authorities have ordered the closure of three vehicle tunnels.

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

Video posted online showed three anchors of a show dart from their studio desk as the set shook. They first tried to shake off a minor earthquake, but quickly ran away from the camera. One presenter indicated that the show would take a commercial break, while another repeated, “My God, my God.”

A pier sank in the town of Machala. The earthquake was also felt in northern Peru.

Associated Press writer Regina Garcia Cano contributed to this report from Caracas, Venezuela.


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