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Powerful Quake Kills 77 in Ecuador
International

Powerful Quake Kills 77 in Ecuador

A powerful earthquake killed at least 77 people, injured hundreds more, ravaged coastal towns and sent residents fleeing for higher ground in Ecuador on Saturday night.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck off Ecuador’s Pacific coast and was felt hundreds of kilometers away in the capital of Quito as well as in the large commercial city of Guayaquil, where rubble lay strewn in the streets and some buildings were cracked or partially collapsed, Reuters reported.
A bridge in the city collapsed on top of car, crushing it.
The earthquake was Ecuador’s worst in decades and officials said the death toll was likely to rise even higher, as rescue teams headed into the hardest-hit areas.
“It was terrifying, we were all scared and we’re still out in the streets because we’re worried about aftershocks,” said Guayaquil security guard Fernando Garcia. “Everything is damaged.”
A state of emergency was declared in six provinces.
The areas worst affected include Pedernales, which draws tourists with beaches lined with palm-trees and tropical thatch-hut restaurants, as well as nearby Cojimies.
“There are villages that are totally devastated,” said Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of the city of Pedernales in the hard-hit province of Manabi, in a radio interview. “What happened here in Pedernales is catastrophic.”
Ramon Solorzano, 46, a car parts merchant in the city of Manta, said he was getting ready to leave the city with his family.
“Most people are out in the streets with backpacks on, heading for higher ground,” he said, speaking in a trembling voice via a WhatsApp phone call. “The streets are cracked. The power is out and phones are down.”

  Refinery Closed
Parts of the capital were without power or telephone service, with many communicating only via WhatsApp. Photos on social media showed cracks in the walls of shopping centers.
The capital’s municipal government later said power had been restored and there were no reports of casualties in the city.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meter above tide level were possible for some coastal areas of Ecuador.
State officials said the OPEC nation’s oil production was not affected by the quake but that the principal refinery of Esmeraldas, located near the epicenter, had been halted as a precaution.
Social media pictures showed a collapsed bridge in Guayaquil and minor damage to the lobby of a hotel, as well as images of a collapsed control tower at an airport in the city of Manta.
“At first it was light, but it lasted a long time and got stronger,” said Maria Jaramillo, 36, a resident of Guayaquil, describing windows breaking and pieces falling off roofs.
“I was on the seventh floor and the light went off in the whole sector, and we evacuated. People were very anxious in the street ... We left barefoot.”
Across the Pacific in Japan, a 7.3 magnitude tremor struck Kumamoto province early Saturday, killing at least 32 people, injuring about a thousand and causing widespread damage, in the second major quake to hit the island of Kyushu in just over 24 hours. The first, late on Thursday, killed nine.

 

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