Powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits Peru-Ecuador border region

22 February 2019, 11:27 | Updated: 22 February 2019, 13:42

A very powerful magnitude 7.5 earthquake has struck eastern Ecuador close to its border with Peru.

The US Geological Survey said the quake happened 71 miles southeast of the town of Palora, in the Morona Santiago province, at a depth of 82 miles.

Most major earthquakes in South America are at shallow depths of 70km (43 miles) or less.

It was felt in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, and was followed by a 5.5 magnitude aftershock less than 25 minutes later in western Ecuador, near the coastal city of Guayaquil.

The ground shook for "a good 30 seconds" in Cuenca, Ecuador, which is around 253km (157 miles) from the epicentre, according to a witness statement on the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre website.

Another resident in the city described the tremor as very strong.

One person living in the town of Nulti, 228km (141 miles) west of the epicentre, said: "Strong rattling of our windows woke us up. Continued for quite some time. Outside, trees and power lines were swaying. Our dog was scared."

Pictures and video taken in the aftermath of the quake have emerged on social media, showing damage to buildings and families running onto the streets in major cities.

No tsunami warnings are in place.

Emergency services are attending the worst-hit areas to assist with evacuations.

Authorities are also checking on isolated communities in rural areas.

Ecuador president Lenin Moreno said the quake has not caused major damage.

He tweeted: "Dear fellow countrymen, preliminary reports of the first earthquakes near Macas indicate no major damage.

"They were senses throughout the country and some provincial COE have already been activated."

He said the quakes "were felt all over the country".

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

In May 2016, a massive 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador killed more than 676 people and left around 16,600 injured.