Powerful Ecuador Earthquake Leaves 41 People Dead

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A powerful, 7.8-magnitude earthquake has shaken Ecuador’s northwest Pacific coast, killing at least 41 people and spreading panic. The US Geological Survey said the shallow quake, the strongest in decades to hit Ecuador, was centred 27km south-southeast of Muisne, a sparsely populated area of fishing ports that’s popular with tourists.

The quake caused “considerable damage” near the epicentre as well as in Guayaquil, the country’s most populous city. Residents streamed into the streets of the capital Quito, hundreds of miles away, and other towns across the nation.  “Based on preliminary information, there are 16 people dead in the city of Portoviejo, 10 in Manta and two in the province of Guayas,” Vice President Jorge Glassaid  in a televised address.

The country’s Geophysics Institute in a bulletin said the quake struck at around 8pm (01:00 GMT) at a depth of 20km. Among those killed was the driver of a car crushed by an overpass that buckled. On social media residents shared photos of homes collapsed, the roof of a shopping centre coming apart and supermarket shelves shaking violently.

In Manta, the airport was closed after the control tower collapsed, injuring an air force official. Hydroelectric dams and oil pipelines in the OPEC-member nation were shut down as a precautionary measure. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said hazardous tsunami waves are possible for some coasts but the government has not issued a tsunami alert. Towns near the epicentre were being evacuated as a precautionary measure. An emergency had been declared in six provinces.

Aljazeera.