Ecuadorian and Peruvian authorities assess damage after strong earthquake leaves 15 dead

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20th March 2023 – (Quito) A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Ecuadorian coastal province of Guayas on Saturday, leaving at least 15 people dead and hundreds more injured. The quake was also felt in various regions of Peru’s northern border towns.

Ecuadorian and Peruvian authorities have been working tirelessly to assess the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake. The Ecuadorian government has reported 12 fatalities in the province of El Oro, two fatalities in the Azuay province, and more than 440 injuries. Meanwhile, Peruvian authorities reported one death, four collapsed homes, and five more left uninhabitable.

The Ecuadorian government has pledged to continue working through the weekend to ensure that those affected by the earthquake receive the necessary support. President Guillermo Lasso tweeted in a video that all the ministries are active and have the financial resources to urgently attend to the emergency.

The Risk Management Secretariat has sent a team to Puna Island, near the epicentre of the earthquake, to assess needs and deliver humanitarian aid. Additionally, the government reported that 84 homes were destroyed, and another 180 were affected. Dozens of health centres and educational units also registered impacts.

Ecuador and Peru are part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an extensive area that surrounds the Pacific Ocean where clashes between the continental plates are frequent. This geological activity is responsible for the frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the region.

During his Sunday message, Pope Francis sent his condolences for the losses and “all those who suffer” due to the earthquake. Other governments, including Chile’s and Cuba’s, also sent messages of solidarity.

While the earthquake has caused significant damage, essential services and transportation infrastructure in Peru remain intact. The Peruvian authorities are working to ensure that the necessary support is provided to those affected by the quake.