Massive earthquake hits Peru, Ecuador, destroys buildings, destroys vehicles

A powerful earthquake rocked Peru and Ecuador on Saturday, killing at least 12 people, injuring one and damaging buildings, Ecuador’s president said.

In cities such as Machala and Cuenca in Ecuador, destroyed buildings, crushed vehicles and debris could be seen as rescue officials rushed to deliver aid and panicked residents ran into the streets.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) quake was felt at 12:12 local time (1712 GMT) with a magnitude of 6.8 and a depth of nearly 41 miles (66 kilometers).

Its epicenter was in the Ecuadorian city of Barao, near the Peruvian border, authorities said.

“I went out into the street because I saw people start to panic and get out of their cars,” a sewing supplies salesman in Cuenca told AFP.

“So far, 12 deaths have been reported (11 in El Oro, 1 in Azuai),” the Ecuadorian president said in a tweet.

Social media reports said other cities including Guayaquil, Quito, Manabi and Manta were also strongly felt.

No casualties or major damage have been reported so far in Peru, where the quake does not appear to be as strong.

In a message posted on Twitter, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso urged people to remain “calm and be informed” of the damage to the building through official channels.

In Cuenca, the facade of a house collapsed on top of a car, leaving “one dead,” according to Quito’s risk management office. AFP correspondents in the city also reported damage to old houses in the historic centre.

In nearby El Oro province, three people were reported dead after a tower collapsed and killed three people.

“It’s a relatively high magnitude for what we have in the country,” Mario Ruiz, director of Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute, told FM Mundo radio.

Peru’s earthquake authorities initially reported the magnitude of the quake as 7.0, but downgraded it to 6.7 hours later.

Hernando Tavera, head of Peru’s National Seismological Center, assured RPP radio that there had been “no major damage to buildings or people” in the country.

The first aftershock of magnitude 4.8 hit Balao, Ecuador. The Ecuadorian Navy said there was no tsunami threat.

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from syndicated feeds.)

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