QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — A strong earthquake shook the region around Ecuador’s second-largest city on Saturday, killing at least four people, damaging homes and buildings, and sending panicked residents into the streets.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 in the country’s coastal Guayas region. It was centered about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Guayaquil, which anchors a metro area of over 3 million people.
President Guillermo Lasso tweeted a message asking residents to remain calm.
The South American country’s emergency response agency, the Risk Management Secretariat, reported one person died in the Andean community of Cuenca. The victim was a passenger in a vehicle trapped under the rubble of a house. Three other people died in the coastal state of El Oro, the agency reported.
In Guayaquil, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Quito, authorities reported cracks on buildings and homes, as well as some collapsed walls. Authorities ordered the closure of three vehicular tunnels.
Videos shared on social media show people gathered on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities. People reported objects falling inside their homes.
One video posted online showed three anchors of a show dart from their studio desk as the set shook. They initially tried to shake it off as a minor quake but soon fled off camera. One anchor indicated the show would go on a commercial break, while another repeated, “My God, my God.”
A pier sank in the city of Machala. The earthquake was also felt in northern Peru.
Me he comunicado con @cetorresb para que @Riesgos_Ec evalúe los efectos producidos por sismo ocurrido hace un momento en Balao, Guayas. Hago un llamado a la calma y a informarse por canales oficiales.— Guillermo Lasso (@LassoGuillermo) March 18, 2023
Associated Press writer Regina Garcia Cano contributed to this report from Caracas, Venezuela.