On March 19, 2023, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck southern Ecuador, causing the destruction of 44 houses and affecting 90 others. The earthquake also caused damage to educational and health buildings, with fifty of them being affected. The disaster resulted in the death of fourteen people in Ecuador and one in Peru. Two of the victims passed away due to winter conditions caused by the earthquake. About 381 individuals sustained injuries, and the number of casualties is expected to rise as rescue operations continue.
Ecuadorian President, Guillermo Lasso confirmed that twelve people died in the province of El Oro, which is located on the border with Peru, while the other two died in Azuay, also situated in the southern part of Ecuador. The military has been offering assistance in the evacuation of victims from the affected areas. The officials noted that among the damaged infrastructures were a bridge, 31 health centers, 50 educational units, 17 public assets, and 20 private assets.
The earthquake was felt in thirteen of the twenty-four provinces of Ecuador. Reports state that in addition to the substantial damages to infrastructures, the disaster also caused the collapse of facades, broken glass, and cracks in walls, among others. Moreover, the devastation resulted in the old cabotage dock’s collapse, damage to the YAT Club Machala and the fall of telephone lines, and the loss of electricity in several cantons of the province of El Oro.
In Guayas province’s capital, Guayaquil, there was a partial structural collapse and 29 architectural (non-structural) collapses recorded in the urban area. Meanwhile, in the rural area, 15 architectural collapses (11 in Puná and 4 in Tenguel), one minor injury, and one structural collapse in Puná were documented. This tragic incident showed the susceptibility of infrastructure to earthquakes, and much effort would be needed in the rebuilding and rehabilitation process.