At least 16 dead after magnitude 6.8 earthquake

Tragedy has struck Ecuador after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country’s southern region on Saturday, resulting in 16 deaths.

The epicenter of the quake was near the town of Baláo and had a depth of 65 km (41 miles), as recorded by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). According to the General Secretariat of Communication of the Presidency of Ecuador, 381 people were injured in the tremor. 11 fatalities occurred in El Oro province, with 1 in Azuay province caused by a wall collapsing onto a vehicle. 3 more deaths in El Oro were caused by a security camera tower collapsing. Those wounded were taken to medical centers for treatment, though no further details were provided.

The USGS gave the quake an “orange alert”, suggesting the potential for “major casualties” and potential “catastrophe” in the area.

Many in the port city of Guayaquil reported feeling very strong tremors. News outlet Ecuavisa confirmed reports of structural damage to buildings in Cuenca, a major city listed in the UN’s world heritage sites. The National Weather Service did not issue a tsunami warning for the region.

Airports in Guayaquil and Cuenca remain open and operating.