At least 15 people died in the South American nations of Ecuador and Peru on Saturday after an earthquake struck—leaving others trapped under rubble.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the earthquake at a magnitude of 6.8, reporting that it struck at a depth of just over 41 miles and about 6 miles from the city of Balao located in the southern province of Guayas in Ecuador, Reuters reported. Authorities said they do not expect a tsunami to follow.
“Ecuadorian families are not alone. The National Government is always there to offer you all its support,” Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso wrote on Twitter.
“The Government has been activated on an emergency basis and the necessary care is provided to those affected by this tremor,” the official account for Ecuador’s presidential spokesperson tweeted.
The Associated Press reported that 14 deaths had been confirmed in Ecuador and 1 death had been reported in neighboring Peru. Peru’s Prime Minister Alberto Otárola said the victim in his country was a 4-year-old girl, who died after the collapse of her home near the border of Ecuador, according to the news agency.
Fabricio Cruz, a resident of Machala in Ecuador, spoke to the Associated Press about his experience when the earthquake struck. “I heard how my neighbors were shouting and there was a lot of noise,” he said.
Cruz was in his third-floor apartment when the disaster came. He said his television fell to the floor and he immediately headed outside, where he saw roofs of nearby homes had collapsed.
“We all ran out into the streets… we were very scared,” Ernesto Alvarado, a resident of Isla Puna told Reuters. He said some homes had collapsed in his area.
“I went out into the street because I saw people starting to run in panic, getting out of their cars,” Magaly Escandon, who is from Cuenca, told the AFP news agency.
The BBC reported that some roads had been blocked as a result of landslides from the earthquake. Homes, health care centers and educational buildings were also damaged, authorities confirmed, according to the British broadcaster.
Newsweek contacted the U.S. State Department and the Ecuadorian government via email for comment.
Update, 3/18/2023 at 9:37 p.m. ET: The death toll was updated.