Earthquake in Ecuador kills at least 12 and causes major damage
A strong earthquake rocked the region around Ecuador’s second-largest city on Saturday, killing at least 12 people, damaging homes and buildings and sending panicked residents onto the streets.
The US Geological Survey reported a 6.7 magnitude earthquake in the coastal region of Guayas. It was centered about 50 miles south of Guayaquil, which anchors a metropolitan area of more than 3 million people.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, in a televised address to the nation, said the earthquake killed 12 people.
Solange Coyago was in an apartment in Cuenca and was about to go to lunch when the windows started shaking and the lights started moving very quickly.
“I was really scared,” she told “NBC Nightly News.” “Everyone outside was in the street… [it] was a really tough time.
After the quake stopped, Coyago, who was visiting the city on vacation, said she had a panic attack.
“Everything in my mind was blind. I started shaking,” she said.
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.
In Guayaquil, about 270 km southwest of the capital, Quito, authorities reported cracks in buildings and houses, 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.
Coyago said his apartment did not have much damage, but some nearby buildings partially collapsed.
“The police are saying please don’t walk around here because any moment it’s going to fall,” she said. “Right now the streets are closed, some of them.”
A video posted online showed three presenters of a show jumping out of their studio office while everything was shaking. 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 contributed.