A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador's central coast Saturday. At least 28 people were killed according to The Associated Press, citing Vice President Jorge Glas.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake at 4:58 p.m. local time, centered 16 miles (27 kilometers) southeast of Muisne, a sparsely-populated coastal town.
While quakes of this scale (greater than 7.7 magnitude) have consistently hit the region since 1900 according to USGS, Saturday's earthquake is the strongest to strike Ecuador in decades.
"We have 16 people dead in the city of Portoviejo, 10 in Manta and two in the province of Guayas," Glas said at a news conference, reports BBC News. Mr. Glas is stepping in for President Rafael Correa, who's away in Rome after attending a Vatican conference.
The quake rattled buildings and caused homes to collapse as far away as Ecuador's capital of Quito, 105 miles (170 km) from the quake's epicenter. Quito residents rushed to the streets in fear, according The Associated Press.
"I'm in a state of panic," Quito resident Zoila Villena told The Associated Press. "My building moved a lot and things fell to the floor. Lots of neighbors were screaming and kids crying."
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cautioned the possibility of hazardous waves along the coasts of Ecuador and Colombia.
The quake follows two deadly earthquakes in southwest Japan on Thursday and Saturday, that killed at least 29 people.
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