Magnitude 6.7 tremor shakes coastal Guayas region, damaging homes and buildings.
A strong earthquake has shaken the region around Ecuador’s second-largest city, killing at least four people, damaging homes and buildings, and sending panicked residents into the streets.
The US Geological Survey reported an earthquake on Saturday with a magnitude of 6.7 in the country’s coastal Guayas region. It was centred about 80km (50 miles) south of Guayaquil, which anchors a metro area of more than 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 car trapped under the rubble of a house.
In the coastal state of El Oro, three people died and several were trapped under rubble, the agency reported. 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.
In Guayaquil, about 270km (170 miles) southwest of the capital, Quito, authorities reported cracks in houses and other buildings as well as some collapsed walls. Authorities ordered the closure of three road 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 presenters of a television 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 presenter indicated the show would go on a commercial break while another repeated, “My God. My God.”
A report from Ecuador’s Adverse Events Monitoring Directorate ruled out a tsunami threat.
The earthquake was also felt in Peru, from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. No deaths or injuries were immediately reported. In the northern region of Tumbes, the old walls of an Army barracks collapsed, authorities said.
Ecuador is particularly prone to earthquakes. In 2016, a quake centred farther north on the Pacific Coast in a more sparsely populated area of the country killed more than 600 people.