Ecuador‘s strongest earthquake in decades, a 7.8 magnitude tremor, struck off the Pacific coast on Saturday, killing at least 41 people and causing damage near the epicenter as well as in the largest city of Guayaquil.
President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and urged the Andean nation’s 16 million people to stay calm.
Authorities urged people to leave coastal areas for fear of rising tides.
The government said the death toll would likely rise and damages were serious.
“Unfortunately, up to the moment there are 41 citizens who have lost their lives,” said Vice President Jorge Glas, noting that it was the strongest quake to hit Ecuador since 1979.
The quake struck at around 8:00 p.m. (0100 GMT) at a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles).
— ARnews 1936 (@ARnews1936) April 17, 2016
— CCTVNEWS (@cctvnews) April 17, 2016
Our thoughts are with the people of Ecuador.
— COLLABRO (@Collabro) April 17, 2016
Ecuador is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve visited and my thoughts are with those affected by the quake tonight #EcuadorEarthquake
— Chenier Hundal (@ChenierHundal) April 17, 2016
— Urvashi (@glimmer318) April 17, 2016
😓 my heart goes out to Quito tonight and everyone who is feeling the effects of the massive earthquake there. #EcuadorEarthquake
— Kelly (@kjackson109) April 17, 2016