Strong earthquake damages buildings and cuts utilities on Ecuador’s north coast
A powerful 6.0 earthquake rocked Esmeraldas and the north coast late Saturday night, collapsing several structures and damaging others. The 11:28 p.m. quake was followed by several strong aftershocks, one of 5.1 magnitude.
Electricity service was disrupted in many neighborhoods and, as a precaution, the National Electricity Corporation temporarily cut power to the region. Following a check of equipment, power was being gradually being restored early Sunday, according to a NEC spokesman. Outages of landline and cellphone service were also reported.
The National Risk Management Service said damage in the area was “significant but not catastrophic” following a preliminary evaluation. It reported that the earthquake was felt in 11 of Ecuador’s 24 provinces and in 63 cities.
A tsunami alert was issued immediately after the quake but was cancelled an hour later.
Sunday afternoon, the cantonal government of Esmeraldas reported that 87 houses and buildings had suffered serious damange, including six schools, a hospital, two health clinics and a bridge. One man died during the earthquake as a result of a heart attack and woman suffered injuries from a falling wall. The National Police said that its headquarters suffered possible structural damage due to cracking in the walls and the partial collapse of the roof.
A city spokeswoman said about 300 people have been left homeless as a result of the quake.
The Ecuador Geophysical Institute said residents in the Esmeraldas area should expect more aftershocks.