A series of earthquakes woke residents of Salinas and nearby coastal communities early Sunday morning, sending many of them into the streets.
The strongest quake, with a magnitude of 6.1 according to the U.S. Geological Survey, struck at 2:04 a.m. 18 miles northwest of Salinas. It was followed minutes later by three more measuring between 5.4 and 5.1 on the Richter Scale.
Another 4.9 magnitude earthquake was recorded at 10:09 a.m. in the same area, just north of La Libertad.
According to Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute, the earthquakes were felt strongly throughout Santa Elena Province, in Salinas, La Libertad, Olón and Ballenita and moderately in Manabi and Guayas provinces to the north and east.
The institute also reported two smaller quakes in Guayas Province but said they were unrelated to the quakes offshore Santa Elena.
Although it had received no reports of deaths or injuries, emergency management officials say that more than 30 structures were damaged by the quakes, many of them seriously. At least three families whose homes had been damaged were in temporary shelters Sunday night.
According to tourism officials, as many as 50 percent of weekend visitors had left the area by mid-morning Sunday.