On March 19th, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck a coastal region of Ecuador and northern Peru, causing extensive damage to homes, schools, and medical centers. According to Reuters, the quake resulted in at least 14 deaths and over 380 injuries, largely in the El Oro province.
The earthquake, which occurred at a depth of 66.4 km (41.3 miles) and 10 km (6.2 miles) from the city of Balao in the province of Guayas, caused structural damage to 44 homes and affected over 50 educational buildings and 30 health centers. Landslides caused by the quake also blocked multiple roadways, while the Santa Rosa airport suffered minor damage but remained operational.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso tweeted his solidarity and commitment to the victims and stated that he remained in the area to verify the damage caused by the earthquake. The presidency’s communication agency confirmed the extent of the damage and reported that the quake destroyed 44 homes and damaged 90 more.
State-run oil company Petroecuador evacuated and suspended activities in multiple facilities out of caution, but had not reported damage. In other provinces, structural damage included a collapsed wharf and a fallen wall in a supermarket.
Although the quake was felt in Peru’s northern region, there were no immediate reports of harm to people or structures.
The initial quake was followed by two weaker aftershocks, according to the Geophysics Institute of Ecuador.
The earthquake highlights the ongoing risk of seismic activity in the region and underscores the need for disaster preparedness and response efforts. Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy.