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Deadly earthquake in Ecuador and Peru, significant damage

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An earthquake left at least 15 dead and several injured on Saturday in southern Ecuador and Peru, also causing extensive damage, according to a new report released on Sunday.

At least 15 people died and several were injured on Saturday March 18 during an earthquake in southern Ecuador and Peru, which caused extensive damage, according to a new official report published on Sunday.

According to the American Seismological Institute USGS, the magnitude of the earthquake reached 6.8. Authorities in Ecuador rated it at 6.5 and those in Peru at 6.7.

In Ecuador, 14 people were killed in the provinces of El Oro and Azuay, in the southwest of the country, and several others were injured, the presidency announced.

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, authorities said.

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

The earthquake occurred at 12:12 p.m. (1712 GMT), at a depth of 44 km, with its epicenter in the town of Balao, about 140 km south of the major Ecuadorian port of Guayaquil. It caused panic among residents who took to the streets. Homes collapsed in several cities, including Cuenca, in the province of Azuay, one of the most affected.

“I went out into the street because I saw people running, terrified, others getting out of cars,” Magaly Escandón, a seller of sewing items in this Andean city, told AFP. “They were running, they were screaming, they were crying.”

In the historic center of Cuenca, AFP journalists saw collapsed buildings, damaged old houses, cracked walls and vehicles crushed by debris. Several streets in this city were blocked due to landslides caused by the earthquake.

Ecuadorian authorities reported 360 destroyed or damaged buildings in the country. A total of 22 landslides were reported in Azuay province.

In Tumbes, 12 homes suffered damage.

call for calm

The earthquake was felt even in the capital Quito, according to testimonies on social networks.

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

Brazil expressed its solidarity with the two affected countries on Sunday, as Chile had already done the day before, saying it was “ready to provide all possible assistance to the authorities to respond to the humanitarian emergency”.

The memory of the devastating earthquake that shook Ecuador in 2016 is still fresh in this country. With a magnitude of 7.8, the earthquake killed 673 people and destroyed coastal villages. Losses were estimated at more than three billion euros.

“It’s a relatively high magnitude for (…) the country,” Mario Ruiz, director of the Ecuadorian Geophysical Institute, told local FM Mundo radio about Saturday’s earthquake. “In the region of the Gulf of Guayaquil we have had since 2017 (…) about two earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 5.0 per year,” he recalled.

“After 12:13 p.m., the largest aftershock occurred at 12:22 p.m.,” added Mario Ruiz, noting that there were eight aftershocks in total.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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