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Earthquake kills at least 15 in Ecuador and Peru and causes widespread damage to homes and buildings

Earthquake kills at least 15 in Ecuador and Peru and causes widespread damage to homes and buildings

At least 14 people have died in Ecuador – while a four-year-old girl has died in Peru – after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region.

The quake was centred just off Ecuador‘s Pacific Coast, around 50 miles (80km) south of the city of Guayaquil, according to the US Geological Survey.

It was also felt as far away as northern Peru, where the country’s Prime Minister, Alberto Ot├írola, said a four-year-old girl had died after the roof of her home collapsed in the Tumbes region – on the border with Ecuador.

Authorities say 14 people have died in Ecuador, while 126 others are reported to have been injured.

Residents inside the city of Guayaquil – which is Ecuador’s second largest city and sits around 170 miles (270km) southwest of the capital Quito – reported that objects had fallen inside their homes during the tremor.

Footage shared on social media showed panicked residents rushing onto the streets.

Ecuador’s president Guillermo Lasso tweeted a message urging residents to stay calm, before telling reporters that the earthquake had “without a doubt … generated alarm in the population”.

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Cuenca. Pic: AP

The country’s emergency response agency, the Risk Management Secretariat, said two people had died in the highlands state of Azuay.

One of the victims was said to be a passenger in a vehicle trapped under a collapsed house.

At least 14 people have died in the coastal state of El Oro, according to the president’s office, which also reported that seven houses had been destroyed and 50 more damaged by the quake.

Police stand by debris fallen from a building at a commercial area after an earthquake shook Machala, Ecuador
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Machala. Pic: AP

Around 20 educational buildings and more than 30 health centres are also believed to have been affected.

In the community of Machala, a city in the El Oro region, a number of people were trapped in a two-storey house after it collapsed, while a pier also sank.

Mr Lasso said on Saturday that he planned to travel to the region.

The Marine Museum of Puerto Bolivar, detached from the dock, is partially inundated in water after an earthquake that shook Machala, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023. 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. (AP Photo/Jorge Sanchez)
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The Marine Museum of Puerto Bolivar in Machala is partially inundated in water after an earthquake

Rescue work was made more difficult due to downed power lines that affected phone and electricity.

A clip posted online showed three TV presenters darting from their studio desks as things around them started to shake.

One presenter suggested the show would go to an ad break, while another repeated: “My God, my God.”

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Police stand around a building damaged after an earthquake struck Cuenca
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Cuenca. Pic: AP

A report from the Adverse Events Monitoring Directorate ruled out a tsunami threat for the South American country.

Ecuador is prone to earthquakes: In 2016 more than 600 people were killed in a quake centred in a more sparsely-populated part of the country further north on the Pacific Coast.