Ecuador’s Pacific coast was struck by the country’s strongest earthquake in decades, a 7.8-magnitude tremor that has killed at least 77 people, flattened buildings and damaged roads near the epicentre, as well as in the country’s largest city of Guayaquil.
President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and urged the country’s 16 million people to stay calm. More than 570 people are believed to have been injured in the quake.
“Our infinite love to the families of the dead,” he said on Twitter, while cutting short a trip to Italy to return home.
The government recommended residents leave coastal areas after concerns for rising tides following the quake.