A severe earthquake in the border region between Ecuador and Peru killed at least 14 people on Saturday. According to the Ecuadorian presidency, eleven people died in the province of El Oro. Two more fatalities were reported, therefore, in the province of Azuay. In the north of the neighboring country of Peru, according to official reports, a four-year-old girl died. Another 126 people were injured, according to the Ecuadorian government. Dozens of buildings, including health centers, were damaged, some destroyed.
According to the US earthquake observatory USGS, the quake of magnitude 6.8 occurred at 12:12 (local time, 18:12 CET) at a depth of about 66 kilometres. As the authorities in Ecuador announced, the epicenter was under the approximately 140 kilometers south of the port city of Guayaquil located place Balao. The tremors were also felt in other cities such as Quito, Manabí and Manta, as users report in online networks.
President calls on the population to calm down
In the city of Cuenca, several buildings were damaged. One person died there when a collapsed wall crashed into his car. Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso called on the population on Twitter to keep calm and inform themselves via the official channels.
Balao saleswoman Magaly Escandon told AFP she ran into the street when she saw "people in panic start running, getting out of their cars." The quake also shook northern Peru. In the border town of Tumbes, a four-year-old girl was killed when a falling brick hit her in the head. There is no evidence of major property damage in the country, said the head of the Geophysical Institute of Peru, Hernando Tavera.
Ecuador and Peru are located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which stretches along the west coast of the American continent. There, several tectonic plates collide and often trigger earthquakes.
Following the severe quake, several aftershocks with a magnitude of up to 4.8 were recorded. Ecuador's navy said there was no threat of a tsunami.