ECUADOR, Apr 17 – A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck about 9 miles, or 14 kilometers, north-northwest of Pedernales, Ecuador killing at least 28 people. The massive quake struck at about 6:58 p.m. local time Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The quake’s epicenter was just under 100 miles (about 160 kilometers) from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. In a televised address Saturday, Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas said that at least 28 people were killed across the cities of Manta, Guayaquil and Portoviejo. The earthquake was the strongest to hit the nation in decades.
Residents in Quito felt the quake for nearly 40 seconds as people fled to the streets to take cover. The earthquake knocked out electricity and eliminated cellphone coverage in several neighborhoods throughout the city. In the port city of Guayaquil, an overpass collapsed on a vehicle and the roof of a shopping center buckled, according to AP.
The Guayaquil International Airport was closed after local communication systems went down. In Manta, the airport was also closed after a control tower was severely damaged. President Rafael Correa asked that residents show strength while the government continues to monitor the situation.
The earthquake was initially estimated to be a magnitude 7.4, but was upgraded by USGS a short time later to 7.8, making it tied with the March 2 earthquake near Indonesia for the strongest of 2016. Several aftershocks were reported in the hour after the first quake, the strongest measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale.