7.8 earthquake in Ecuador kills at least 28, tsunami alert issued

Quito(Reuters): A strong earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck off the coast of Ecuador late on Saturday, sending confused residents streaming into the streets of the capital Quito and spurring warnings of strong waves on the Andean nation’s coast.

“I was in my house watching a movie and everything started to shake. I ran out into the street and now I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Lorena Cazares, 36, a telecommunications worker in Quito.

Pictures provided to Reuters by the government showed a bridge collapsed in the coastal city of Guayaquil and a collapsed tower at the airport in the city of Manta.

Some parts of the capital were without power or telephone service, with many communicating only via Whatsapp. Photos on social media showed cracks in the walls of shopping centers.

The Andean country’s emergency authority did not confirm any reports of damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.8, though Ecuador’s Institute of Geophysics on its Twitter account published several different figures that were lower.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meters above the tide level are possible for some coasts of Ecuador.

Neighbouring Peru issued a tsunami alert for the north of the country following the quake.

The quake was centered just off the coast at a shallow depth of 19 km (12 miles), according to the USGS.

Across the Pacific in Japan, a 7.3 magnitude tremor struck Kumamoto province early Saturday, killing at least 32 people, injuring about a thousand and causing widespread damage, in the second major quake to hit the island of Kyushu in just over 24 hours. The first, late on Thursday, killed nine.