Another quake, magnitude 6.2, strikes off Ecuador coast

Search teams in Ecuador turn their efforts to clearing bodies instead of finding survivors, days after the country was hit by a deadly earthquake.
A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Ecuador on April 20, 2016.
A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Ecuador on April 20, 2016.PHOTO: USGS

PEDERNALES, ECUADOR (REUTERS) - A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Ecuador on Wednesday (April 20), just days after a major quake hit the country killing nearly 500 people.  

The latest quake was centred 70km off the Pacific coast town Esmeraldas at a depth of 10km, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said, not far from the epicentre of Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake.  

Reuters witnesses in the zone said two strong tremors of about 30 seconds each were felt in Cojimies, down the coast in the disaster zone from the weekend earthquake, waking people up and sending them into the street.

The authorities in the capital Quito called the latest earthquake an aftershock. No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. 

Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake killed 480 people, left another 107 missing, and injured more than 4,600. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and roads torn up in a major blow to the South American Opec country’s already fragile economy.  

Supervising rescue work in the disaster zone, President Rafael Correa said the weekend quake inflicted US$2 billion to US$3 billion (S$2.38 billion to US$4.02 billion) of damage to the oil-dependent economy and could knock 2 to 3 percentage points off growth.  

Saturday’s quake, Ecuador’s worst in decades, destroyed or damaged about 1,500 buildings, triggered mudslides. It left some 20,500 people sleeping in shelters, according to the government.  

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