QUITO/LIMA—A deep magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck the Peru-Ecuador border region early on Friday morning, Feb. 22, the U.S. Geological Survey said, causing tremors that the Ecuadorian president said were felt around the country.
The quake’s epicenter was in a sparsely populated area 140 miles (224 kilometers) east-southeast of Ambato, Ecuador, at a depth of 82 miles (132 kilometers). The USGS’s initial reading assessed the quake, which occurred at 5:17 a.m. local time (10:17 GMT), at magnitude 7.7.
One of the first photos coming out of Ecuador shows structural damage following a magnitude-7.5 earthquake there (Photo: Radio La Voz) pic.twitter.com/t6Gyp3JyVM
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) February 22, 2019
There was no risk of a tsunami being triggered, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, and there were no initial reports of casualties or damage.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said on Twitter that preliminary reports “do not indicate major damage,” though he added that provincial response teams had been activated and that the tremors had been “felt throughout the country.”
Compatriotas queridos, los reportes preliminares de los primeros sismos cerca de Macas no indican daños mayores. Fueron sentidos en todo el país y algunos COE provinciales ya se han activado.
— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) February 22, 2019
One resident in Cuenca, Ecuador, 157 miles (253 kilometers) from the epicenter, described the temblor as very strong, while a second resident there reported experiencing “a good 30-second shake,” according to witness statements on the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center website.
Ecuador’s emergency response service said the main quake and other smaller ones had shook the south of the country with reports of some minor injuries, evacuation of patients and staff from several hospitals and damage reported in some Amazonian towns.
BREAKING – Large earthquake early this morning in South America. Registered 7.5 near Palora, Ecuador. More details to come… pic.twitter.com/0fW3YiC6w3
— Leigh Spann (@WFLALeigh) February 22, 2019
Some areas were without electrical power, authorities said, while the country’s oil pipelines and hydroelectric dams were operating normally.
In towns near the epicenter of the quake, the tremors caused alarm. “I felt the walls and the floor move. I was very scared and we went out to the street,” Lissette Alarcón, a 25-year-old university student, told Reuters.
— Earthquakes World (@Terremoti7) February 22, 2019
“We still aren’t used to these earthquakes,” she said.
A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck Peru’s southern coast in January 2018, killing one person, injuring scores more and causing roads and homes to collapse.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook a central area of the Ecuadorean coast on April 16, 2016, killed more than 700 people, destroyed hundreds of houses and caused more than $3 billion of losses.
By Alexandra Valencia and Mitra Taj