On March 18, Ecuador and Peru experienced an earthquake with a calculated magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale. The earthquake’s epicenter was on Puná Island in Ecuador’s southeast, affecting it and northern Peru. NPR reports that the earthquake reached Peru from their northern border with Ecuador to the central part of their Pacific coast.
According to the Ecuadorian news channel , approximately 489 people were injured in the earthquake in Guayas province, while the Ecuadorian government indicates 14 deaths in total, with 12 deaths reported in the neighboring province of El Oro and two in the Azuay. Aside from the 14 deaths reported in southern Ecuador in the province of Guayas, NPR continues, one death was reported in northern Peru where the earthquake was also felt and 126 more people were reported injured.
Teleamazonas relays the report that 90 homes have been destroyed, 148 educational institutions have been affected, and 33 public services also report having suffered damage from the earthquake. Ecuavisa, another Ecuadorian news channel, reports that the earthquake caused damages to around 48 health centers and reparations will cost approximately $1.7 million.
The Associated Press reports that Ecuador’s emergency response agency stated firefighters worked to rescue people still trapped under rubble from fallen buildings and the National police would assess the damage, though the National Police’s efforts were hampered by damaged communications infrastructure. According to CNN, the Office of the Presidency assured that the people who were injured were immediately taken to hospitals to be treated, though no further details were provided to the press.
Reparation attempts have begun on March 20 at the Teófilo Dávila and San Vicente de Paúl hospitals in the city of Pasaje in El Oro, Ecuavisa continues. The Ecuadorian Minister of Transportation and Public Works announced the initiation of a state of emergency throughout the Azuay. In El Oro, Health Minister José Ruales inspected health centers with a team of technicians. Peru’s Prime Minister reported that a four-year-old girl died from head trauma as a result of the collapse of her home which occurred in Tumbes, one of Peru’s border regions where the wall of an army barracks also collapsed.
Ecuador’s Emergency response agency reports that in the Ecuadorian province of El Oro, several people were trapped under rubble from fallen-down houses, according to NPR. According to CNN, three reported deaths from El Oro province occurred as a result of a security camera tower coming down during the earthquake. The agency also reported in the provincial capital of Machala a two-story building collapsed during the earthquake before the residents had a chance to evacuate, it is still unknown how many people are trapped under the building’s rubble.
In the Azuay, NPR says, one of the earthquake’s victims was a passenger in a vehicle that was crushed by rubble from a collapsed house in Cuenca, Ecuador’s third-largest city. Cuenca, which is of high historical value to the nation and on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, reported suffering several structural damages to buildings. A CNN producer’s relatives in the port city of Guayaquil reported feeling “very strong” tremors from the earthquake.
The country of Ecuador has been shown to be prone to earthquakes; just a couple years ago in 2016 Ecuador experienced another deadly earthquake in the more northern region of the country’s pacific coast notably in the province of Manabí, and it is estimated that 600 people were killed during the 2016 earthquake.
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