Ecuador earthquake: 77 killed, hundreds injured

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(CNN) A major earthquake hit Ecuador’s central coast, killing at least 77 people as it buckled homes and knocked out power in a city hundreds of miles away, authorities said.

Rescue workers in Manta, Ecuador, work to pull out survivors trapped in a collapsed building after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck off the coast on Saturday, April 16. The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along the country's coast.
Rescue workers in Manta, Ecuador, work to pull out survivors trapped in a collapsed building after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck off the coast on Saturday, April 16. The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along the country’s coast.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Saturday night, Vice President Jorge Glas said in a televised address.

Nearly 600 people were injured, he said, adding that the death toll is expected to go up as more information comes in.

A state of emergency is in effect for six provinces, but Glas urged those who left their homes in coastal areas to return, as the tsunami alert had been lifted.

Provinces under a state of emergency are Guayas, Manabi, Santo Domingo, Los Rios, Esmeraldas and Galapagos.

Nightlife venues closed

Hours after the earthquake, the nation’s soccer federation said it has suspended the remaining matches of the current round of the Ecuadorean championship.
The interior ministry also ordered all nightlife venues in affected areas closed for the next 72 hours.
All mobile operators are allowing free text messages for customers to reach out to loved ones in Manabi and Esmeraldas provinces, the vice president said.
Rescue workers stand near a destroyed car in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Rescue workers stand near a destroyed car in Guayaquil, Ecuador

In a race to help residents, Ecuador deployed 10,000 soldiers and 3,500 police officers to the affected areas, he said.

The tremor was centered 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) southeast of the coastal town of Muisne, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
It’s the deadliest earthquake to hit the nation since March 1987, when a 7.2-magnitude tremblor killed 1,000 people, according to the USGS.

Body recovered

About 300 miles away in Guayaquil, the nation’s most populous city, emergency officials recovered one body from the scene of a bridge collapse, police told local media.
Elsewhere in the city of 2 million people, the earthquake left shoppers shaken. Video from a store showed kitchen utensils swinging back and forth as some items tumbled off shelves.
Some areas in the city lost power.
Damage is seen inside a store in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 16
Damage is seen inside a store in Guayaquil, Ecuador
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the tsunami threat following the earthquake has “mostly passed.”
An earlier warning for other nations with coastlines on the Pacific was canceled.

Japan quakes

The deadly earthquake in Ecuador follows two powerful, deadly temblors in Japan last week.
A total of 41 people were killed when a magnitude-6.2 earthquake jolted the Kyushu region Thursday, followed by a magnitude-7.0 in the same area Saturday, authorities said.

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