77 people were killed and 588 or more were injured in a magnitude-7.8 earthquake near the coast of Ecuador. Ecuador’s vice president, Jorge Glas, said a state of emergency is now in effect and added that preventive evacuations in coastal areas were underway because of possible tsunami risks.
In Ecuador’s most populous city, Guayaquil, bridges and buildings collapsed, others were damaged, and many areas have lost power.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the tremor was centered about 27 kilometers south-southeast of Muisne. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the capital of Quito, located 173 kilometers from the center point of the earthquake.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a threat forecast for some parts of Ecuador, saying waves could reach 1 meter above tide level. Neighbouring Peru had also issued a tsunami alert for its northern coastline. The quake was felt in Colombia, where patients in a clinic in the city of Cali were evacuated from the building as a precautionary measure.
The quake, Ecuador’s largest since 1979 near the northern town of Muisne. Widespread severe damage is reported, with a bridge destroyed as far south as Guayaquil about 300km away. President Rafael Correa, who is flying back from a trip to Italy, has decreed a state of emergency.
— Gustavo (@gustavocnn) April 17, 2016
He said, “This is a very painful test. I ask the country to be calm and united. Let’s be strong; we will overcome this…Roads and hospitals can be rebuilt; you cannot recover lost lives. That’s what hurts the most.”
Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of the town of Pedernale, which is close to the epicenter, said, “We’re trying to do the most we can but there’s almost nothing we can do…This wasn’t just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town,” Mr Alcivar said.