(Guayaquil) At least 12 people died on Saturday in a major earthquake in southern Ecuador, which also affected neighboring Peru, according to an official report.
The American Seismological Institute USGS specified that its magnitude had reached 6.8.
“At the moment we have 12 dead,” including 11 in El Oro province and one in Azuay province, Ecuador’s presidency said on Twitter. The earthquake also injured at least one person and caused material damage.
It occurred at 12:12 p.m. (1:12 p.m. Eastern Time) with an epicenter in Balao township at a depth of 44 kilometers, authorities said. The earthquake caused panic among residents who took to the streets. Homes have collapsed in several cities, including Cuenca, one of the hardest hit.
“I went out into the street because I saw people running, terrified, others getting out of cars,” Magaly Escandón, a sewing items seller in this Andean city, told AFP.
Collapsed buildings, cracked walls, vehicles crushed by debris. In the historic center of Cuenca, old houses were damaged, AFP journalists reported.
The earthquake was felt in Quito, Manabi and Manta, according to accounts on social media.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso issued a “call for calm and information through official channels” in a message on Twitter.
In Peru, where the earthquake was of a lesser magnitude, no casualties or significant damage have been reported so far.
According to the Ecuadorian Navy’s Oceanographic and Antarctic Institute, the tremor “does not meet the conditions likely to generate a tsunami” in the Pacific.