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Ecuador earthquake: Residents question buildings after quake killed 15

People in southern Ecuador and northern Peru were digging through rubble and picking up the pieces of shattered lives on Sunday after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake killed 15 people on Saturday.

Juan Vera, from the Ecuadorian coastal town of Machala, lost three members of his family when his house collapsed.

“That building should have been demolished by now,” Vera said. outside the morgue in Machala. “The mayor’s office is the entity that has to regulate these things through its planning departments so that the buildings are in good condition to be rented or inhabited.”

In another part of Machala, five people died in a collapse of a similar house, according to neighbor Dolores Vaca. Vaca said she ran out of her own house when the quake began and she barely made it out before “everything collapsed, the house collapsed, everything was lost.”

Earthquakes are relatively common in the region (a magnitude 7.8 quake killed more than 600 people in Ecuador in 2016), but buildings in and around the coastal city of Guayaquil were unprepared for Saturday’s temblor.

An estimated 300 buildings were damaged in the last earthquake. The epicenter was located about 50 miles south of Guayaquil, the second most populous city in Ecuador, according to the United States Geological Survey. Architect Germán Narváez, who works in the capital city of Quito, said many of the destroyed buildings were old and lacked solid foundations.

“At critical moments of seismic movements, they tend to collapse,” he explained.

Fourteen of the 15 earthquake victims lived in Ecuador, according to authorities. One of the victims was a 4-year-old Peruvian girl who died of a head injury when her family’s home collapsed. At least 450 people were injured in the chaos.

Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims and survivors during his blessing Sunday at noon.

“I am close to the Ecuadorian people and I assure you of my prayers for the dead and those who suffer,” the Pope said.

with cable news services

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