Sunday, April 17, 2016

41 Dead After 7.8-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Near Ecuador's Coast

A magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck on Ecuador's coast Saturday, leaving at least 41 people dead and causing buildings to shake in cities more than 100 miles away and collapsing an overpass, authorities and witnesses said.
The temblor struck just before 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) with an epicenter 16 miles south-southeast of the coastal town of Muisne, located on the country's northwestern coast, the U.S. National Geological Survey said. The quake was recorded at a depth of about 12 miles.
Ecuador's Vice President Jorge Glas said 41 people were killed, but called it a preliminary figure. President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency.
"Our infinite love to the families of the dead," Correa on Twitter, while cutting short a trip to Italy to return home.
The country's Geophysics Institute in a bulletin described "considerable damage" in the area of the epicenter and in Guayaquil. Glas said 10,000 military troops and 3,500 police have been dispatched to the affected areas.
Correa called it the strongest quake to hit Ecuador since 1979. States of emergency were declared for the provinces of Esmeraldas, Los Rios, Manabi, Santa Elena, Guayas and Santo Domingo.
The quake was strongly felt in country's capital of Quito, around 100 miles away.
An hotel barely stands after an earthquake in the town of Manta, Ecuador, Saturday April 16, 2016. Patricio Ramos / AP
"I was in my house watching a movie and everything started to shake. I ran out into the street and now I don't know what's going to happen," Lorena Cazares, 36, a telecommunications worker in Quito, told Reuters.
One person was killed when an overpass collapsed and crushed a car in the country's largest city, in the country's largest city, Guayaquil, located 200 miles to to the south of Muisne. Another occupant of the car survived and was taken to a hospital, authorities said.
Video posted online showed damage to a shopping mall in Portoviejo and people crowded in the street outside as alarms rang. A hotel in Manta partially collapsed and was left barely standing, and buildings were shaken to the ground in Guayaquil.
There is no threat of a Pacific-wide tsunami, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves up to 3 feet above tide level were possible for some coastal areas of Ecuador, but later said the threat had largely passed. Ecuador's president said those on the coasts should seek higher ground as a precaution.
The earthquake was initially called a magnitude-7.4 quake, but the USGS later upgraded it to a 7.8.
Three other earthquakes were recorded in the area in the two hours after the larger quake hit, ranging from 5.4 to 4.8 in magnitude, the USGS said.
A smaller 4.5 magnitude quake was recorded along the coast south of Muisne about a half-hour before the magnitude-7.8 quake struck, the agency said.
 The earthquake in Ecuador comes just days after the first of a pair of powerful and deadly quakes shook southwestern Japan. At least 41 people were killed in a magnitude-6.5 earthquake Thursday and a magnitude-7.0 earthquake Saturday, national broadcaster NHK reported.

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