QUITO – One elderly person died on Monday of a heart attack as a result of several earthquakes that struck Ecuador’s northwestern Esmeraldas province, causing material damage, including the collapse of several homes.
The initial quake struck at 2:11 a.m., measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, and it was followed by 15 relatively minor aftershocks measuring between 2.9 and 4.2 off the coast of Atacames, according to the Geophysical Institute (IG), which warned that there could be “more aftershocks in this zone with magnitudes smaller than the main event.”
The initial temblor was located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) below the Earth’s surface and – in addition to Esmeraldas – was felt in towns in the provinces of Guayas, Manabi, Pichincha and Santo Domingo, the institute said in a statement.
IG director Alexandra Alvarado confirmed to Ecuador Radio that an elderly person had died of a heart attack after the quake struck, and she emphasized that people should remain calm when confronted with sudden events of this kind.
The ECU 911 emergency service said that no damage to infrastructure was reported in the area or along the E-15 and E-20 highways, the most important routes in the zone.
Authorities began evaluating the damage to homes throughout the affected region, the service added.
The Naval Oceanographic Institute said, meanwhile, that the quake did not have the “necessary conditions to produce a tsunami affecting Ecuador.”
“Areas without electricity. Damage is being evaluated. Classes suspended in the province. Chin up!” wrote President Rafael Correa on his Twitter account.
The earthquakes occurred near the area struck on April 16, 2016, by a devastating magnitude-7.8 temblor, which killed about 670 people, left thousands with damage to their homes and caused millions of dollars in losses.