The earthquake with a magnitude of about 6.8 was centered just off the Pacific coast, about 80 kilometers south of Guayaquil, Ecuador's second-largest city, according to the U.S. USGS.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso stated in a televised address to the nation that the earthquake killed 12 people.

Find and help sufferers

One of the victims was in a vehicle that was smashed by parts from a house in the community of Cuenca, according to the country's emergency services.

In the coastal state of El Oro, three people died and several were trapped under rubble. Even in the community of Machala, an unknown number of people have been trapped under rubble after a two-story house collapsed.

Emergency services are working to find and help victims while the national police assess the damage. The work is made more difficult by broken down lines that have interrupted telephone and electricity services.

Also known in Peru

According to a report by Ecuador's Directorate for Monitoring Side Effects, there does not appear to be a threat of tsunami.

The earthquake was also felt in Peru, from the country's northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. No deaths or injuries have been reported so far.

Ecuador is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. In 2016, an earthquake further north on the Pacific coast killed more than 600 people.