A powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake in the northern Peruvian Amazon region was felt throughout Peru, Ecuador and Colombia early Sunday morning. The quake, which occurred at 2:41 a.m., was centered in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.
According to emergency response officials in Peru, a number of buildings, highways and bridges were destroyed or damaged by the tremor although they said it was too early to make a full damage assessment. Several structures collapsed in Moyobamba, the capital of San Martín Province, and there were unverified reports of injuries.
Peru’s interior ministry issued a statement at 5 a.m. saying that it would provide additional information by mid-morning. “This was a very powerful earthquake and we are fortunate that it happened in a sparsely populated area,” a ministry statement said. “Had it occurred in a populated area the impact would have been catastrophic.”
The quake was felt strongly in Zamora Chinchipe Province in Ecuador, closest to the quake epicenter. The prefect reported that there was structural damage to dozens of buildings in the province and that power was out in the town of Yantzaza.
Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute reported that the earthquake was felt across the entire country with magnitude intensities ranging from 5.0 in the southeast to 3.5 in the north. Ecuador’s 911 services reported receiving emergency calls about the tremor in Loja, Machala, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Riobamba and Quito although no damage reports have been verified.
Due to the early hour of the earthquake, the Geophysical Institute said that most Ecuadorians slept through the event.
The earthquake was the most powerful in the world in almost two years. It occurred at a depth of 48 miles.