'Significant casualties likely': Strong quake hits Ecuador

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'Significant casualties likely': Strong quake hits Ecuador

Tweet Facebook Mail At least 12 people died after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck southern Ecuador on Saturday afternoon, according to government officials. The earthquake struck near the southern town of Baláo and was more than 65 kilometres deep, according to the United States Geological Survey. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said there was no tsunami risk to Australia from the quake. READ MORE: Trump says he expects to be arrested, calls for supporters to protest Police stand by debris fallen from a building at a commercial area after an earthquake shook Machala, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023.

(AP Photo/Stalin Diaz) The Marine Museum of Puerto Bolivar, detached from the dock, is partially inundated in water after an earthquake that shook Machala, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Jorge Sanchez) Eleven people died in the province of El Oro and one person died in the province of Azuay, according to the communications department for Ecuador's president said. In an earlier statement, authorities said the person in Azuay was killed when a wall collapsed onto a car and that at least three of the victims in El Oro died when a security camera tower came down. People who were injured were being treated at hospitals, the Presidency added, but did not provide further details. READ MORE: Relief in sight as 'unseasonable' heatwave grips East Coast Police talks to people next to the site where a car was crushed by debris after an earthquake shook Cuenca, Ecuador, Saturday, March 18, 2023.

(AP Photo/Xavier Caivinagua) The USGS gave the tremor an "orange alert," saying "significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread." "Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response," the USGS added. It also estimated damage and economic losses were possible. Relatives of a CNN producer in the western port city of Guayaquil said they felt "very strong" tremors. CNN afiliate Ecuavisa reported structural damage to buildings in Cuenca, one of the country's biggest cities.

The historic city is in the UN list of world heritage sites. There is no tsunami warning in effect for the area, according to the US National Weather Service. The airports of Guayaquil and Cuenca remained open and operational, the country's statement said.

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