March 18 (UPI) — At least one person has died after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake was recorded about six miles from the Ecuadorian city of Baláo, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat said in a statement that the façade of a building collapsed on a car with a person inside, killing them.
In an analysis of potential ground failure, the USGS said few or no landslides are expected in Ecuador as a result of the earthquake but that an “extensive” number of people could face significant ground liquefaction.
The U.S. agency issued an orange alert for expected fatalities and said “significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread.” A yellow alert was also issued for potential economic losses, with “some damage” possible.
Data from the USGS shows that tremors were likely felt across a large swath of the country, including the larger cities of Naranjal, Machala, Guayaquil and Piura.
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso said in a statement that he has summoned the Comité de Operaciones de Emergencia, the country’s agency for planning joint operations during emergencies and natural disasters.
Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat said that it has deployed “its entire technical team” nationwide to survey damages.
“We report that the earthquake does not meet the necessary conditions to generate a tsunami on the continental and insular coast,” the secretariat said in the statement.
Officials said other damage has included the collapse of a two-story house in Baláo, leaving people trapped inside. Power lines were also downed by the earthquake, causing outages in parts of the country.