World

Earthquake rocks Ecuador-Peru border region

Although there have been no reports of major injuries or damage, the powerful earthquake Friday came less than three years after another one in Ecuador killed about 700 people.

Quake 'felt throughout the country,' Ecuador's president says

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck a sparsely populated area in Ecuador near the Peru border early Friday morning. (Canadian Press/CBC News)

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 struck the Peru-Ecuador border region early Friday morning, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The quake's epicentre was in a sparsely populated area about 225 kilometres east-southeast of Ambato, Ecuador, at a depth of 132 kilometres. The USGS's initial reading had assessed the quake, which occurred at 5:17 a.m. ET, at magnitude 7.7.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said on Twitter that preliminary reports "do not indicate major damage," but said provincial response teams had been activated and the tremors had been "felt throughout the country."

One resident in Cuenca, Ecuador, about 250 kilometres from the epicentre, described the quake as very strong, while a second resident reported experiencing "a good 30 second shake," according to witness statements on the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre website.

Ecuador's emergency response service said the main quake and other smaller ones shook the south of the country. Some minor injuries, evacuation of patients and staff from several hospitals, and damage have been reported in some Amazonian towns.

Some areas were without electrical power, authorities said, while the country's oil pipelines and hydroelectric dams were operating normally.

In towns near the epicentre 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.

There was no risk of a tsunami being triggered, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Peru's southern coast in January 2018, killing one person, injuring dozens more and causing roads and homes to collapse. A 7.8 magnitude quake in Ecuador killed around 700 people in 2016.