A strong earthquake hit Ecuador and Peru, killing at least 14 people.
A massive earthquake rocked southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least 15 people, trapping others under rubble and sending rescue teams into streets littered with debris and downed power lines.
The USGS reported a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck off the Pacific coast, about 80 km south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second largest city. One of the victims died in Peru and 14 others in Ecuador, where authorities also said at least 126 people were injured.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso told reporters that the quake “without a doubt … caused alarm among the population.”
In Peru, the quake was felt from the northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otarola said a 4-year-old girl died from a head injury she received as a result of the collapse of her house in the Tumbes region on the border with Ecuador.
According to the Secretariat for Risk Management, Ecuador’s emergency response agency, one of the victims in Azuay was a car passenger crushed under the rubble of a house in the Andean region of Cuenca.
The agency also said that several people were trapped under the rubble in El Oro. In the community of Machala, a two-story house collapsed before people could evacuate, a pier collapsed and the walls of the building cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.
The agency said firefighters were working to rescue people while the national police assessed the damage, their work was complicated by broken communication lines that interrupted telephone communications and electricity.
Machala resident Fabrizio Cruz said he was in his third-floor apartment when he felt a strong jolt and saw his TV hit the ground. He immediately set off.
“I heard my neighbors screaming and there was a lot of noise,” said Cruz, a 34-year-old photographer. He added that when he looked around, he noticed the collapsed roofs of nearby houses.
The Ecuadorian government also reported damage to health centers and schools. Lasso said he would go to El Oro on Saturday.
In Guayaquil, about 170 miles (270 km) southwest of the capital Quito, authorities reported cracks in buildings and houses, as well as some walls that had collapsed. Authorities have ordered the closure of three road tunnels in Guayaquil, which are home to more than 3 million people.
Videos posted on social media show people gathering on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities. People have reported that objects have been dropped into their homes.
One video posted online showed the show’s three hosts throwing themselves from their table in the studio as the set shook. At first they tried to make it look like a minor earthquake, but they soon went off-screen. One host indicated that the show would have a commercial break while another repeated, “Oh my God, Oh my God.”
Luis Tomala was fishing with others when the earthquake hit. He said that their boat began to move, “like a racehorse, we got scared, and when we turned on the radio, we heard about the earthquake.” It was then that his group, according to Thomal, decided to stay at sea for fear of the tsunami.
Ecuador’s Office of Adverse Events Monitoring’s report ruled out a tsunami threat.
Peruvian authorities said the old walls of an army barracks had collapsed in Tumbes.
Ecuador is particularly prone to earthquakes. In 2016, an earthquake centered north of the Pacific coast in a more sparsely populated part of the country killed more than 600 people.
Machala student Katherine Cruz said her house was shaking so hard that she couldn’t even get up to leave her room and ran outside.
“It was terrible. I have never felt anything like this in my life,” she said.