At least nine people died this Saturday as a result of a 6.5 magnitude earthquake registered in the province of Guayas, on the coast of Ecuador. The epicenter was in Balao, a small town of 28,000 inhabitants two hours from the port city of Guayaquil, as reported by the Geophysical Institute. The earthquake was felt intensely in at least 13 provinces of the country.
The city of Cuenca, which is in the Andean zone, is one of the most affected. A house in the center has collapsed due to the tremor and its walls have fallen on the vehicles parked in the street. One of its occupants has been crushed to death while other people have been injured.
In Guayaquil and Machala, the damage recorded has been mainly in infrastructure. Authorities continue their assessment of the consequences of the earth movement. In Puerto Bolívar, province of El Oro, which borders Peru, part of the cabotage pier has been destroyed by the earthquake. The number of victims has been confirmed by the Secretary of Risk Management, Cristian Torres.
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) has been launched to assess the level of damage. At the moment, the event has not been placed in the earthquake category. According to the geologist Diego Peña, to be able to say that it is, more than the Richter scale, the Mercalli scale is used, “which measures the level of destruction that an earthquake can have. In this case, it did not have the level of destruction that Manabí had in 2016″.
The memory of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 16, 2016 is still very present in Ecuador: it left more than 600 dead and entire neighborhoods disappeared. In this Saturday’s earthquake, the epicenter, Balao, is an area surrounded by mangroves, continues the expert, “and that meant that the surface waves did not reach very populated and nearby cities, such as Guayaquil, with the devastating force with which they they were able to do it,” says Peña.
As published by the Geophysical Institute on its website, the earthquake occurred at a depth of 44 kilometers. “It had a tectonic origin, the subduction zone where the Nazca plate goes under the South American plate,” explains Peña. Ecuador is located in the Pacific Belt or Ring of Fire, which concentrates some of the most important tectonic plate collapse zones in the world and is therefore affected by strong seismic activity.
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The Oceanographic Institute of the Navy reported that the characteristics of the earthquake do not meet the conditions to generate a tsunami on the continental and insular coast of the country. Since 12:12 local time, when the tremor was felt, four other aftershocks of lesser magnitude have been recorded.
We are carrying out the evaluation of the affectations given by the earthquake. The institutions were activated immediately and contingency teams are mobilizing to offer all their support to those who have been affected. https://t.co/QPeJn80YZK
— Guillermo Lasso (@LassoGuillermo) March 18, 2023
President Guillermo Lasso on his Twitter account asked for calm and time for the Risk Secretariat to assess the effects of the earthquake.
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