At least 77 people were killed when a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador
At least 77 people were killed when a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador, destroying buildings and a bridge and sending terrified residents dashing from their homes, authorities in the Latin American country said Sunday.
The quake, which struck at 2358 GMT about 170 km northwest of Quito, lasted about a minute and was felt across Ecuador, northern Peru and southern Colombia.
Vice President Jorge Glas said the death toll will likely rise further in what he called the "worst seismic movement we have faced in decades."
"At this moment, the number of confirmed deaths has reached 77," Glas said early Sunday, adding more than 588 people were injured.
A state of emergency was declared in the six worst-hit provinces.
Police, the military and the emergency services "are in a state of maximum alert to protect the lives of citizens," Glas said.
President Rafael Correa, on a visit to the Vatican, wrote on Twitter that he was immediately returning to Ecuador.