© Reuters. A pig walks past the destroyed wall of a house following an earthquake in Isla Puna, Ecuador March 18, 2023. REUTERS/Maria Fernanda Landin
(Reuters) – Authorities in Ecuador and Peru worked on Sunday to assess the damage caused by the previous day’s strong earthquake that rocked the region, killing at least 15 people and injuring hundreds.
The 6.8-magnitude quake hit Ecuador’s coastal province of Guayas midday on Saturday, with residents reporting tremors across much of the country as well as border towns in northern Peru.
As of midnight on Saturday, the Ecuadorian government reported 12 dead in El Oro province and two dead in Azuay province, as well as more than 440 injured.
“We will continue to work all weekend,” President Guillermo Lasso tweeted in a video overnight. “All ministries are active and have the financial resources to urgently address this emergency.”
The Risk Management Secretariat said it sent a team to Puna Island early on Sunday, near the earthquake’s epicenter, to assess needs and provide humanitarian assistance.
Additionally, the government reported that 84 houses had been destroyed and another 180 affected. Dozens of health centers and educational units also recorded impacts.
State oil company Petroecuador reported that an offshore platform near the epicenter suffered damage that caused machinery to break down, temporarily reducing production.
Peruvian authorities reported one death, four collapsed houses and five others uninhabitable, while essential services and transport infrastructure were not damaged.
During his Sunday message, Pope Francis sent his condolences for the losses and “all who suffer” due to the earthquake. Other governments, including Chile and Cuba, also sent messages of solidarity.
Ecuador and Peru are part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a large area that surrounds the Pacific Ocean where clashes between continental plates are common.