By GONZALO SOLANO Associated Press
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — An earthquake that shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru has killed at least 12 people and left others trapped under rubble. The US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.8 earthquake on Saturday about 50 miles south of Guayaquil. It is the second largest city in Ecuador. The South American country’s emergency response agency said one person died in the Andean community of Cuenca and 11 others in the coastal state of El Oro. Authorities reported cracks in buildings and homes and some collapsed walls. Three car tunnels were closed. Videos on social media showed people gathered on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities.
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — A powerful earthquake shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least a dozen people, trapping others under rubble and sending rescue teams into streets strewn with debris and downed power lines.
The US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered just off the Pacific coast, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city.
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso said in a televised event that the earthquake killed 12 people. In a tweet, he also asked people to remain calm.
Risk Management Secretary Cristian Torres said in a radio interview that 11 of the victims died in the coastal state of El Oro and one in the highland state of Azuay.
The victim in the Andean community of Azuay in Cuenca was a passenger in a vehicle crushed by debris from a house, according to the Secretariat of Risk Management, the South American country’s emergency response agency.
In El Oro, the agency also reported that several were trapped under the rubble. In the community of Machala, a two-story house collapsed before people could evacuate, a pier gave way and the walls of a building cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.
The agency said firefighters worked to rescue people while National Police assessed the damage, their work hampered by downed power lines that knocked out telephone and electrical service.
Machala resident Fabricio Cruz said he was in his third-floor apartment when he felt a strong tremor and saw his TV fall to the ground. He immediately went outside.
“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 the nearby houses.
In Guayaquil, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of the capital Quito, authorities reported cracks in buildings and homes and some collapsed walls. Authorities ordered the closure of three vehicular tunnels in Guayaquil, which anchor the metro with more than 3 million people.
Videos shared on social media showed people gathered on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities. People are reporting objects falling into their homes.
One video posted online shows three anchors on a show boom from their studio desk as the set shakes. At first they tried to shake it off as a mild earthquake, but soon ran away from the camera. One host indicated the show would go into commercial break, while another repeated: “Oh my God, oh my God.”
A report from the Ecuadorian Adverse Events Monitoring Directorate ruled out a tsunami threat.
The earthquake was also felt in Peru, from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. In the northern Tumbes region, the old walls of an army barracks collapsed, authorities said.
Ecuador is particularly prone to earthquakes. In 2016, an earthquake centered further north on the Pacific coast in a less populated area of the country killed more than 600 people.
Associated Press writers Regina Garcia Cano in Caracas, Venezuela, and Franklin Briceño in Lima, Peru contributed to this report.