March 19 (Reuters) – Ecuadorian and Peruvian authorities worked on Sunday to assess the damage caused by the previous day’s strong earthquake that shook the region, leaving at least 15 dead and hundreds injured.
The 6.8 magnitude quake struck the Ecuadorian coastal province of Guayas at midday on Saturday, with residents reporting shaking in much of the country as well as in Peru’s northern border towns.
At midnight on Saturday, the Ecuadorian government reported 12 fatalities in the province of El Oro and two fatalities in the Azuay province, as well as more than 440 injuries.
“We will continue working all weekend,” President Guillermo Lasso tweeted in a video overnight. “All the ministries are active and have the financial resources to urgently attend to this emergency.”
The Risk Management Secretariat said it sent a team to Puna Island early on Sunday, near the epicenter of the earthquake, to assess needs and deliver humanitarian aid.
Additionally, the government reported that 84 homes were destroyed and another 180 affected. Dozens of health centers and educational units also registered impacts.
State-run oil company Petroecuador reported that an offshore platform near the epicenter suffered damage that caused machinery to fail, temporarily reducing production.
Peruvian authorities reported one death, four collapsed homes and five more left uninhabitable, while essential services and transportation infrastructure were undamaged.
During his Sunday message, Pope Francis sent his condolences for the losses and “all those who suffer” due to the earthquake. Other governments including Chile’s and Cuba’s also sent messages of solidarity.
Ecuador and Peru are part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an extensive area that surrounds the Pacific Ocean where clashes between the continental plates are frequent.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia in Ecuador, Fabián Cambero in Santiago and Jackie Botts in Mexico CityEditing by Matthew Lewis)