A 6.7-magnitude earthquake shakes the coastal region of Guayas, damaging homes and buildings.

A powerful earthquake rocked the area around Ecuador’s second-largest city, killing at least four people, damaging homes and buildings and sending terrified residents out into the streets.

The US Geological Survey reported a 6.7-magnitude earthquake on Saturday in the country’s coastal region of Guayas. It was centered about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Guayaquil, which anchors a metro area of ​​more than 3 million people.

President Guillermo Lasso wrote on Twitter a message asking residents to remain calm.

The South American country’s emergency response agency, the Secretariat for Risk Management, has reported one death in the Andean community of Cuenca. The victim was a passenger in a car trapped under the rubble of a house.

The agency stated that three people died in the coastal state of El Oro, and a number of them were trapped under the rubble. In the town of Machala, a two-storey house collapsed before people could evacuate, a sidewalk collapsed and the walls of the building cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.

The agency said firefighters worked to rescue people while the National Police assessed the damage, and their work was made more difficult by downed lines that cut telephone and electricity service.

In Guayaquil, about 270 kilometers (170 miles) southwest of the capital Quito, authorities reported cracks in homes and other buildings as well as some collapsed walls. Authorities ordered the closure of three tunnels.

Residents look at a collapsed building after an earthquake rocked Machala, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023. The US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.8 quake centered off the Pacific coast, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. .  ) south of Guayaquil.  (AP Photo/Johnny Crespo)
Residents look at a building that collapsed after an earthquake shook Machala, Ecuador [Jhonny Crespo/AP Photo]

Videos shared on social media show people gathered in the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities. People have reported falling objects inside their homes.

One video posted online showed three TV presenters scurrying off their studio desk as the set shook.

They initially try to dismiss it as a simple earthquake but quickly flee the camera. One presenter indicated that the show was going on a commercial break while another repeated, “Oh my God. Oh my God.”

A report from Ecuador’s Directorate for Adverse Event Control ruled out a tsunami threat.

The earthquake was also felt in Peru, from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. The authorities said the old walls of the army barracks had collapsed in the northern district of Tumbes.

Ecuador is particularly prone to earthquakes. In 2016, an earthquake centered north on the Pacific coast in a sparsely populated part of the country killed more than 600 people.

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