Quito, May 19 (IANS) A new earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck Ecuador’s north coast on Wednesday, killing one person and injuring 85 others, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said.
The quake occurred at 11:46 a.m. local time (1646 GMT), with the epicentre in the northern province of Esmeraldas at a shallow depth of 15 km, said the country’s Geophysical Institute, Xinhua reported.
The powerful earthquake has caused panic in various parts of the country, including the capital city of Quito where citizens fled their homes, the agency said.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, another 6.8-magnitude quake was centreed to the south of Muisne Canton, also in Esmeraldas, with a depth of 32 km below the earth’s surface.
According to the Geophysical Institute, the two earthquakes were aftershocks from the 7.8-magnitude quake that rocked Ecuador’s northern coast on April 16, killing at least 661 people and injuring around 16,600.
Hundreds of aftershocks were recorded following the April earthquake, with Wednesday’s two being the strongest so far.
Meanwhile, Equador’s president suspended classes on Wednesday in the country after the aftershock.
On his official Twitter account, Correa said that classes would be suspended “until all information surrounding possible damage (to schools) is gathered.”
Local authorities also suspended classes in the provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas until Monday, the two worst hit provinces by the 7.8 degree earthquake that rocked the South American country.
Correa convened an urgent meeting of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE), part of the ECU 911 Integrated Security Service, in Quito to evaluate the situation and the damage.
The Electricity Ministry is working to restore the power after the aftershock left some coastal regions without electricity, the president said, adding that the dams had not be damaged and are functioning normally.