Ecuador: deadly earthquake in the south of the country and in Peru

An earthquake shook several provinces in Ecuador on Saturday, March 18 in the night, causing several victims. In the photo, material damage in the city of Machala. REUTERS - VICENTE GAIBOR DEL PINO

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A violent earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale caused the death of at least 16 people south of Ecuador and one north of Peru on the night of Saturday to Sunday. It was felt in 13 of Ecuador's 24 provinces and President Guillermo Lasso appealed for calm.


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with our correspondent in Quito, Eric Samson

The epicenter of the quake was located in the small town of Balao, population 28,000, two hours from the port of Guayaquil. This is an area surrounded by mangroves that probably limited the strength of the surface waves, the only good news of the evening.

However, the damage was significant, particularly in the south of the country. More than a dozen people died in Oro province where a dock collapsed into the sea in Puerto Bolivar. In the city of Cuenca, a house did not withstand the tremor. Its walls fell on cars parked on the street, killing at least one person. Nearly 60 homes were destroyed or damaged as well as 17 schools, more than 30 health centers and a bridge in the north of the country, according to a provisional assessment in the early evening.

Ecuador 网络

Peru also affected

A four-year-old girl also died in the Peruvian city of Tumbes. Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso appealed for calm and visited some of the estimated 160 wounded being treated in hospitals in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Machala.

He recorrido todos los territorios afectados por el sismo de magnitud 6.5. Estaremos con todo el Gabinete atendiendo, de manera inmediata, esta emergencia. #CruzadaPorElEcuador

— Guillermo Lasso (@LassoGuillermo) March 19, 2023

Funds have been urgently released to start repairing damaged roads and infrastructure as people spend the night outside for fear of aftershocks.

The memory of the devastating earthquake that shook Ecuador in 2016 is still fresh in people's minds. With a magnitude of 7.8, the quake killed 673 people and destroyed coastal villages. The losses had been estimated at more than three billion euros, says the France Press Agency.

"This is a relatively high magnitude for (...) the country," Mario Ruiz, director of Ecuador's Geophysical Institute, said in an interview with local FM Mundo radio about the latest quake. "In the Gulf of Guayaquil region, we have had since 2017 (...) about two earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 5.0 per year," he said.

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  • Ecuador
  • Natural disasters