New Earthquake Shakes Ecuador's Coast

It came days after a larger quake struck the same area and killed hundreds.

04/20/2016 09:24 am ET
Henry Romero / Reuters
Another earthquake struck Ecuador's coast on Wednesday, after a larger quake rattled the area and killed hundreds of people over the weekend.

PEDERNALES, Ecuador (Reuters) - A magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook Ecuador's coast early on Wednesday, terrifying locals and impeding rescuers after a bigger weekend quake battered the same area and killed nearly 500 people.

The latest earthquake hit 25 km (15 miles) off Muisne on the northwest Pacific coast at a depth of 15 km, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

That was near the epicenter of Saturday's 7.8 quake, which devastated a long swath of the coast and dealt a major blow to the oil-producing nation's already fragile economy.

Witnesses said two strong tremors of about 30 seconds each woke people up and sent them running into the street.

No tsunami warning was issued, and there were no immediate reports of major damage.

Ecuador's Geophysical Institute said there were in fact two quakes of magnitude 6.2, followed by 17 aftershocks. The USGS, however, mentioned one quake of 6.1 size.

Local media reported that rescue operations were temporarily suspended because of the new earthquake, amid dwindling hopes of finding more survivors from Saturday's quake.

That earthquake killed 480 people, left another 107 missing, and injured more than 4,600. It also destroyed about 1,500 buildings, triggered mudslides and tore up roads.

Some 20,500 people were left sleeping in shelters.

Henry Romero / Reuters
The earthquake that struck Ecuador over the weekend killed 480, left over 100 missing and left 20,000 sleeping in shelters. A woman walks inside her damaged home.


Supervising work in the disaster zone, President Rafael Correa said the weekend quake had inflicted $2 billion to $3 billion of damage to the economy and could knock 2 to 3 percentage points off growth.

Lower crude revenue had already left the poor Andean nation of 16 million people facing near-zero growth, cutting investment and forcing it to seek financing.

In isolated villages and towns, survivors struggled without water, power or transport, although aid was trickling in.

Along Ecuador's Pacific coast, sports stadiums served as both morgues and aid-distribution centers.

Guillermo Granja / Reuters
Survivors in isolated villages and towns struggled without water, power or transport.

Scores of foreign aid workers and experts have come to help. About 14,000 security force members are keeping order, but sporadic looting has been reported.

Rescuers were losing hope of finding more people alive, although relatives of the missing begged them to keep looking.

"There is still a small margin of time to find survivors," Correa said. "But I don't want to give excessive hope."

One woman arrived from the highland capital Quito in search of her daughter and niece, who had been on a beach trip, and urged police to take care with excavators as they searched a destroyed hotel in Pedernales.

"Please," she said, "at least give us the corpses intact."

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Valencia and Diego Ore in Quito; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Larry King and Lisa Von Ahn)

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