Monday, March 27, 2023|
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Residents look at a building that collapsed after an earthquake shook Machala, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Jhonny Crespo)
QUITO, Ecuador — A strong earthquake shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least 15 people, trapping others under rubble, and sending rescue teams out into streets littered with debris and fallen power lines.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a magnitude of about 6.8 that was centered just off the Pacific Coast, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city. One of the victims died in Peru, while 14 others died in Ecuador, where authorities also reported that at least 126 people were injured.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso told reporters the earthquake had “without a doubt … generated alarm in the population.” Lasso’s office in a statement said 12 of the victims died in the coastal state of El Oro and two in the highlands state of Azuay.
In Peru, the earthquake was felt from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otárola said a 4-year-old girl died from head trauma she suffered in the collapse of her home in the Tumbes region, on the border with Ecuador.
One of the victims in Azuay was a passenger in a vehicle crushed by rubble from a house in the Andean community of Cuenca, according to the Risk Management Secretariat, Ecuador’s emergency response agency.
In El Oro, the agency also reported that several people were trapped under rubble. In the community of Machala, a two-story home collapsed before people could evacuate, a pier gave way and a building’s walls cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.
The agency said firefighters worked to rescue people while the National Police assessed damage, their work made more difficult by downed lines that interrupted telephone and electricity service.
Machala resident Fabricio Cruz said he was in his third-floor apartment when he felt a strong tremor and saw his television hit the ground. He immediately headed out.
“I heard how my neighbors were shouting 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.
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