6.7 magnitude earthquake in Ecuador kills at least 12 people, causes extensive damage

A massive earthquake rocked southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday, killing at least a dozen people, trapping others under rubble and sending rescue teams into streets littered with debris and downed power lines.

The USGS reported a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck off the Pacific coast, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second largest city.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said in a televised address to the nation that 12 people were killed in the earthquake.

According to the Secretariat of Risk Management, the South American country’s emergency response agency, one victim was a car occupant crushed under the rubble of a house in the Andean region of Cuenca.

The agency said that in the coastal state of El Oro, three people were killed, and several more were under the rubble. In the community of Machala, a two-story house collapsed before people could evacuate, a pier collapsed and the walls of the building cracked, trapping an unknown number of people.

The agency said firefighters were working to rescue people while the national police assessed the damage, their work was complicated by broken communication lines that interrupted the work of telephone and electricity.

In Guayaquil, about 170 miles (270 km) southwest of the capital Quito, authorities reported cracks in buildings and houses, as well as some walls collapsing. Authorities have ordered the closure of three road tunnels in Guayaquil, which are home to more than 3 million people.

Videos posted on social media show people gathering on the streets of Guayaquil and nearby communities. People have reported that objects have been dropped into their homes.

In one video posted online, the show’s three hosts were seen throwing darts from behind their studio table as the set shook. At first they tried to make it look like a minor earthquake, but they soon disappeared from the camera’s view. One host indicated that the show would have a commercial break, while another repeated, “Oh my God, my God.”

Ecuador’s Office of Adverse Events Monitoring’s report ruled out a tsunami threat.

The quake was also felt in Peru, from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast. No deaths or injuries were immediately reported. Authorities said the old walls of an army barracks had collapsed in the northern district of Tumbes.

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

Associated Press contributor Regina Garcia Cano contributed to this report from Caracas, Venezuela.

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