Ecuador's president suspends classes after 6.8-magnitude aftershock

Updated: 2016-05-19 09:28


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Ecuador's President Rafael Correa suspended classes on Wednesday in the South American country after a new aftershock, measuring 6.8 degrees on the Richter scale, hit the northwestern coastal province of Esmeraldas.

The quake, occurred at 11:46 a.m. local time (16:46 GMT), was centered close to the touristic town of Mompiche, Esmeraldas, with a depth of 15 kilometres, according to the Geophysical Institute.

So far, one person has been confirmed dead while 85 were injured, Correa said.

The local Navy's Oceanographic Institute ruled out a possible tsunami alert on Ecuador's coasts.

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 on April 16.

On his official Twitter account, Correa said that classes would be suspended "until all information surrounding possible damage (to schools) is gathered."

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.

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.

Early on Wednesday morning, at 02:57 a.m. local time (0757 GMT), another 6.8-magnitude quake was centered to the south of Muisne Canton, also in Esmeraldas, with a depth of 32 km below the earth's surface.

The quake only left light injuries and small damages to infrastructure, the government said.

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.

"Aftershocks are expected to continue for two months after the main event (earthquake) in April," Correa said, urging the public to keep calm and be prepared for powerful earthquakes over six magnitude.