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Ecuador hit by two earthquakes; minor injuries reported

Reuters Reuters 18/05/2016

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Two earthquakes struck Ecuador's coast on Wednesday, causing minor injuries and light damage in the same region where a magnitude 7.8 tremor killed more than 650 people last month.

Wednesday's tremors, measuring 6.7 and 6.8 in magnitude, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, cut electricity in some coastal areas and sent people running into the streets as far away as the highland capital of Quito, witnesses said.

President Rafael Correa said the epicenter of the first one overnight was the fishing village of Mompiche on the Pacific coast, about 368 km (229 miles) from Quito.

"There are some light injuries because people ran out, or bumped into things," Correa said on state television, adding there was also some minor damage, mainly to infrastructure already hit by the April disaster.

There was no tsunami warning.

People evacuate buildings after a powerful quake in Ecuador. © Reuters People evacuate buildings after a powerful quake in Ecuador.

The second tremor struck just before midday, according to the U.S. Geological survey.

The April 16 earthquake, Ecuador's worst in nearly seven decades, flattened buildings along the coast.

As well as the fatalities, the tremor also injured more than 6,000 people, made nearly 29,000 homeless, and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage, according to the government's latest tally.

Correa described Wednesday's first tremor as another aftershock from the April quake. "Despite the alarm and the scare and the possibility of new damage ... it's normal, you expect aftershocks for two months after," he said.

Ecuador's 110,000-barrel-per-day Esmeraldas refinery was working at 77 percent capacity after some operations were halted due to the first quake on Wednesday, the government said before the second tremor.

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