A strong earthquake shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least four people, trapping others under rubble, and sending rescue teams out into streets littered with debris and fallen power lines.
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 Ecuadorian 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.
In the coastal province of El Oro, three people died and several were trapped under rubble, the agency reported. In the community of Machala, a two-storey home collapsed before people could be evacuated, a pier gave way and a building’s walls cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.
The agency said firefighters worked to rescue people while the national police assessed damage, their work made more difficult by downed lines that interrupted telephone and electricity service.
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.”
A report from Ecuador’s adverse events monitoring directorate ruled out a tsunami threat.
The earthquake was also felt in Peru, from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. No deaths or injuries were immediately reported. In the northern region of Tumbes, the old walls of an army barracks collapsed, authorities said.
Ecuador is particularly prone to earthquakes. In 2016, a quake centered farther north on the Pacific Coast in a more sparsely populated area of the country killed more than 600 people.