Ecuador: at least twelve dead in a magnitude 6.8 earthquake

At least twelve people died on Saturday March 18 in a major earthquake in southern Ecuador, according to an official report

Ecuador: at least twelve dead in a magnitude 6.8 earthquake

At least twelve people died on Saturday March 18 in a major earthquake in southern Ecuador, according to an official report. The American Seismological Institute USGS specified that its magnitude had reached 6.8. The earthquake also injured at least one person and caused material damage.

The earthquake occurred at 12:12 p.m. local time (6:12 p.m. in Paris) with an epicenter in the town of Balao at a depth of 44 kilometers, according to authorities. Panicked, residents took to the streets. Homes have collapsed in several cities, including Cuenca, one of the hardest hit.

"I went out into the street because I saw people running, terrified, others getting out of cars," Magaly Escandón, a sewing items seller, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). in this Andean city. In the historic center of Cuenca, old houses were damaged, AFP journalists reported.

The earthquake was also felt in Quito, Manabi and Manta, according to accounts on social media. Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso issued a "call for calm and information through official channels" in a message on Twitter.

In Peru, where the earthquake was smaller, no casualties or significant damage have been reported so far.

According to the Ecuadorian Navy's Oceanographic and Antarctic Institute, the tremor "does not meet the conditions likely to generate a tsunami" in the Pacific.