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 US Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 in the country’s coastal Guayas region. Its centre was about 50 miles (80 kilometres) south of Guayaquil, which has a metropolitan area of more than 3 million people.
The country’s president, Guillermo Lasso, tweeted a message asking residents to remain calm.
The South American country’s emergency response agency, the Risk Management Secretariat, reported that 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 south-west of the capital, Quito, authorities reported cracks on buildings and homes, as well as some collapsed walls. Authorities ordered the closure of three vehicle tunnels.
Videos shared on social media show people gathered on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities and people reported objects falling inside their homes.
One video posted online showed three TV presenters dart from their studio desk as their set shook. They initially tried to dismiss the tremors as a minor quake but soon fled off camera. One anchor indicated the show would go to a commercial break, while another repeated:, “My God, my God.”
The quake also affected the city of Machala where a pier sank and it was felt in northern Peru.