QUITO (AP) — A strong earthquake rattled Ecuador’s coast Saturday, killing at least 14 people, injuring 381 and damaging dozens of homes, schools and health centers, and killing a little girl. One city is on the Peruvian border, officials said.
The US Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 6.7 and struck just after noon in the Guayas region, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city.
President Guillermo Lasso told a press conference after visiting the towns of Machala that were hit hardest by the earthquake that the number of victims was “something that hurts us the most, they are the result of the destruction of nature.” and Cuenca, with various ruins.
He also informed that government ministries have been organized to release economic resources to attend the emergency.
Twelve people died in the coastal province of El Oro, the capital of Machala, the Risk Management Secretariat said. Some houses collapsed in the area, a dock was destroyed and the walls and pillars of a bank building were cracked, leaving an unknown number of people trapped, he said.
Ecuador’s air force has begun evacuating the wounded from Machala to health centers in Guayaquil, officials said.
Appealing to the people to remain calm, Lasso visited the quake-injured in Machala in the afternoon and expressed his solidarity with the families of the dead and the affected people.
In the Andean province of Azuay, 310 kilometers south of Quito, two people died, one of them when a vehicle they were driving collapsed on a street in the city of Cuenca after a second floor collapsed into the middle of a house. Colonial Centre. , according to the secretariat.
In Peru, the 4-year-old girl died at a hospital in Tumbes, bordering Ecuador, Prime Minister Alberto Otorola said. The girl suffered a brain injury when her house collapsed in an earthquake in Ecuador, which was also felt in Peru.
Peru’s Civil Protection Department said four houses in the Tumbes area were uninhabitable due to the earthquake.
The Secretary of Communications of the State of Ecuador has so far recorded the destruction of 44 houses, and 90 with varying degrees of damage, as well as 50 schools, 31 health centers and 17 public buildings.
In the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, about 270 kilometers (170 miles) southwest of Quito, buildings and houses were reported to have cracks and some collapsed walls. Officials ordered the closure of three vehicular tunnels in the metropolitan area of Guayaquil, home to about 3 million people.
Videos shared on social media showed people gathering on the city’s streets and nearby communities.
Dolores Vaca, who lost her home in the populous 4 de April neighborhood in Machala, told The Associated Press by phone that she ran out into the street at first shock, and her husband dragged their young daughter along. Then, “Everything collapsed, the house settled, everything was lost,” he said.
He pointed out that his neighbors were not so lucky, promising that five people died when his house next door collapsed on them without giving them time to get out.
“Unexpectedly, the boat turned like a racehorse. We were scared. We heard a tremor when we turned on the radio, but we stood in the sea and thought,” Luis Domala, a fisherman who was fishing in the sea, told AP. That a tsunami might come. Officials dismissed that possibility after the quake.
“It’s horrible, I’ve never felt anything like this in my life,” Kathryn Cruz of Machala told the AP, adding that she couldn’t get up to leave her room to run outside. “I heard things going down, thank God it was a big scare.” His one-storey house was without major damage.
The neighborhoods most affected by seismic activity in Machala are in the Puerto Bolivar region and are made of precarious construction, mainly wood and blocks.
Germán Narváez, a Quito architect and builder, told the AP that the houses most affected during seismic movements are those with defective construction, foundations, structures and technical design. In addition to the ancient structures built with materials such as adobe (earth bricks and straw) common to the older parts of Ecuador’s Andean cities.
Fabricio Cruz, a resident of Machala, said he was in his third-floor apartment when he felt a strong tremor and saw his television fall to the floor.
“Then I ran out of my house with the first thing I got, how my neighbors were screaming, there was a lot of noise,” the 34-year-old photographer described. He added that when he reached the street, he saw the roofs of some nearby houses collapsed.
The quake struck at 12:53 p.m. (1753 GMT) in a sparsely populated area south of Puna Island.
The quake was also felt in Peru, from the Ecuadorian border to the Pacific coast of central Peru. The regions of Tumbes, Beura, Lambayek and Ankash were shaken by the seismic movement, although no material or human damage is currently known.
At Tumbes, the old walls of military barracks collapsed, but without causing damage or casualties, indicating civil protection.
On April 16, 2016, a powerful earthquake struck the country’s central coast, killing nearly 680 people, causing heavy destruction in cities such as Manta, Portoviejo, and Pedernales, and causing about $1.5 billion in damage across the country. Officers.
Associated Press writers Regina Garcia Cano in Caracas and Franklin Briseno in Lima contributed to this report.