Quito, March 19 (IANS) At least 15 people have been killed and more than 400 injured after an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale struck Ecuador, the media reported citing officials.
The epicentre was near Balao, about 80 km from Ecuador’s Guayaquil city where about three million people live, the BBC reported.
The earthquake occurred at around 12 p.m. (local time) on Saturday
The southern province of El Oro was the worst affected and 12 people died there, authorities said.
Buildings were damaged in several cities. In Ecuador, Machala and Cuenca were among the cities that suffered damage to buildings and vehicles, as emergency services rushed to help people.
President Guillermo Lasso asked Ecuadoreans to remain calm as officials assess the damage.
He also visited a hospital in the city of Machala to meet with some of the injured people.
The government said more than 250 injured people were treated in the town of Pasaje, in El Oro, and nearly all of them were eventually discharged.
“We ran from the house,” Machala resident Exon Tobar told the BBC.
Several roads have been blocked by landslides, while some homes, educational buildings and health centres have been damaged, authorities said.
One person was killed in the city of Cuenca, in Azuay province, after a wall collapsed onto their car, while three persons died when a security camera tower came down on Jambeli Island, in El Oro province.
There have also been reports of the earthquake being felt in several other cities, including Manabi, Manta and the capital Quito.
This is the strongest quake to hit Ecuador since 2016, when nearly 700 people died and thousands were injured, officials.