Just as a drill for Ecuador’s new tsunami early warning system got underway Tuesday morning in Esmerladas, a strong 5.4 earthquake rocked the area. The quake, which occurred at 9:22 a.m., and was centered about 20 kilometers southwest of the city, also caused the evacuation of dozens of office and apartment buildings in Quito, 110 kilometers to the east.
Felt along the entire coastline and in the country’s northern provinces, the earthquake was another in a continuing series of quakes centered in Esmeraldas and Manabi Provinces that have followed the massive 7.8 earthquake on April 16.
Risk management officials reported structural damage to a number of structures in Atacames and Esmeraldas but said the full extent of the damage would take several days to determine. They said they had received several reports of minor injuries.
In Quito, the quake was felt strongly, sending thousands of people into the streets from taller buildings in the downtown area. By 10 a.m., the city government issued a “safe to return” order after examining several government buildings.