On March 18, 2023, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit southern Ecuador and reached its neighboring country, Peru. While the United States Geological Survey reported the event with a magnitude of 6.8, the Peruvian seismological authorities reported that the earthquake reached 7 Richter degrees. The geological services ruled out a tsunami warning, but at least twelve people were reported dead with damage to buildings.
The tremor occurred at noon with its epicenter in the Ecuadorian municipality of Balao, some 140 kilometers from the port of Guayaquil, at a depth of 44 kilometers. The Ecuadorian presidency confirmed 12 deaths, 11 in the province of El Oro and one in the province of Azuay. In Cuenca, the facade of a house collapsed on a vehicle leaving one person dead, and in the province of El Oro, three deaths were recorded from the fall of a tower.
Numerous cities such as Quito, Manabí, and Manta, felt the seismic activity, as reported on social networks. The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, took to Twitter to announce that he would take immediate actions and made a call for calm and information through official channels.
The earthquake was also felt on the north and central coast of Peru, where the authorities reported the death of a four-year-old girl, bringing the total death toll to 13. Additionally, dozens of people were affected by the strong earthquake, and numerous homes, health centers, and other infrastructures were either destroyed or damaged.
In response to the situation, the National Emergency Center in Peru reported that they had identified dozens of victims and affected people in the three provinces of the Tumbes region. The severity of the event highlights the need for governments to be prepared for natural disasters and for citizens to heed official warnings and take necessary precautions to minimize damage and loss of life.