At least 15 dead in Ecuador and Peru during an earthquake

Two South American countries are bereaved by an earthquake. At least 15 people died and several were injured on Saturday in an earthquake in southern Ecuador, which caused extensive damage and also affected neighboring Peru.

According to the American Seismological Institute USGS, the magnitude of the earthquake reached 6.8. The Ecuadorian authorities for their part evaluated the magnitude at 6.5, and those of Peru at 6.7. The presidency of Ecuador reported 13 dead, including 11 in the province of El Oro and two in that of Azuay, in the south-west of the country, and several injured, without specifying the number. In the Peruvian town of Tumbes, on the border with Ecuador, a four-year-old girl was killed by a brick that fell on her head.

People were “running, screaming, crying”

The earthquake occurred at 12:12 p.m., at a depth of 44 km, with the epicenter in the city of Balao, about 140 km south of the large port of Guayaquil. It caused panic among residents who took to the streets. Dwellings collapsed in several towns, including Cuenca (province of Azuay), one of the hardest hit. “I went out into the street because I saw people running, terrified, others getting out of cars,” said Magaly Escandón, a seller of sewing items in this Andean city. “They were running, they were screaming, they were crying.”

In the historic center of Cuenca, buildings have collapsed, old houses damaged, walls cracked and vehicles crushed by debris. Several streets in this city were blocked due to landslides caused by the earthquake. The earthquake was also felt even in the capital Quito, according to testimonies on social networks.

The Ecuadorian president on the spot

“I appeal for calm and for information through official channels,” tweeted Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, who immediately went to the province of El Oro and then headed for the city of Cuenca. to “see the damage caused by the earthquake”.

“It is a relatively high magnitude for (…) the country”, explained in an interview with local radio FM Mundo Mario Ruiz, director of the Ecuadorian Geophysical Institute. “In the Gulf of Guayaquil region, we have had since 2017 (…) about two earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 5.0 per year,” he noted. “After 12:13 p.m., the largest aftershock occurred at 12:22 p.m.,” he added, noting that there had been eight aftershocks in total. According to the Ecuadorian Navy’s Oceanographic and Antarctic Institute, the tremor “does not meet the conditions likely to generate a tsunami” in the Pacific.

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