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Photo: Rafa Idrovo Espinoza/Reuters

Ecuador: At least 4 dead after 6.8 magnitude earthquake

March 18, 2023
(Photo: Rafa Idrovo Espinoza/Reuters)

(CNN) — At least four people died after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck southern Ecuador on Saturday afternoon, the country’s government said in a statement.

The earthquake struck near the southern town of Baláo and was more than 65 km (nearly 41 miles) deep, according to the United States Geological Survey.

One person died in the city of Cuenca, in the province of Azuay, when a wall collapsed onto their car, and another three people died in Jambelí Island, in the province of El Oro, when a security camera tower came down, authorities said.

The USGS gave the tremor an “orange alert,” saying “significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread.”

“Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response,” the USGS added. It also estimated damage and economic losses were possible.

Relatives of a CNN producer in the western port city of Guayaquil said they felt “very strong” tremors.

CNN afiliate Ecuavisa reported structural damage to buildings in Cuenca, one of the country’s biggest cities. The historic city is in the UN list of world heritage sites.

There is no tsunami warning in effect for the area, according to the US National Weather Service.

The airports of Guayaquil and Cuenca remained open and operational, the country’s statement said.

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