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Author Topic: 235 Dead, Over 1,500 Injured After Major 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake  (Read 450 times)

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A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck about 9 miles, or 14 kilometers, north-northwest of Pedernales, Ecuador killing at least 235 people. The massive quake struck at about 6:58 p.m. local time Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The quake's epicenter was just under 100 miles (about 160 kilometers) from Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Ecuador's Vice President Jorge Glas said that in addition to the 235 people that were killed, 1,557 were injured across the cities of Manta, Guayaquil and Portoviejo, according to NBC News. The earthquake was the strongest to hit the nation in decades.

Residents in Quito felt the quake for nearly 40 seconds as people fled to the streets to take cover. The earthquake knocked out electricity and eliminated cellphone coverage in several neighborhoods throughout the city.

"It felt the same on sea as it did on land," said Alberto Reynas, who was fishing off the coast of Pedernales when the quake struck. "It's pure sadness. Everything is destroyed.”

Some 10,000 armed forces and thousands of emergency workers, national police and firefighters have been sent to the region after the quake flattened buildings and buckled highways. Several major highways have been closed.

In the port city of Guayaquil, an overpass collapsed on a vehicle and the roof of a shopping center buckled, according to AP. The Guayaquil International Airport was closed after local communication systems went down. In Manta, the airport was also closed after a control tower was severely damaged.

"We're trying to do the most we can but there's almost nothing we can do," said Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of Pedernales, a town of 40,000 near the quake's epicenter. He pleaded for authorities to send earth-moving machines and emergency rescue workers as dozens of buildings in the town were flattened, trapping residents among the rubble.

"This wasn't just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town," he said.

"I'm in a state of panic," Zoila Villena, a Quito resident, told the AP. "My building moved a lot and things fell to the floor. Lots of neighbors were screaming and kids crying."

The earthquake was initially estimated to be a magnitude 7.4, but was upgraded by USGS a short time later to 7.8, making it tied with the March 2 earthquake near Indonesia for the strongest of 2016. Several aftershocks were reported in the hour after the first quake, the strongest measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale.
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