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Powerful Earthquake Kills 77 in Ecuador

  • VOA News

Police look at a car crushed under a collapsed overpass in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Saturday April 16, 2016. The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along the country's coast, killing scores of people and causing damage hundreds of kilometers away from the epicenter in the capital and other major cities.(AP Photo/Jeff Castro)

Police look at a car crushed under a collapsed overpass in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Saturday April 16, 2016. The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along the country's coast, killing scores of people and causing damage hundreds of kilometers away from the epicenter in the capital and other major cities.(AP Photo/Jeff Castro)

The death toll from the powerful earthquake in Ecuador has risen to 77. Hundreds are injured.

Vice President Jorge Glas says the toll is likely to rise as reports from around the country continue to come in.

Rescue crews are struggling to get to the sparsely populated fishing ports and tourists beaches where the earthquake struck Saturday night.

"It's very important that Ecuadorians remain calm during this emergency," Glas said.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the shallow 7.8 magnitude quake struck late Saturday along the South American country's coast.

It was felt 170 kilometers away in Quito, the capital, where it knocked out electricity and cell phone coverage in several neighborhoods. Quito buildings swayed for about 40 seconds, causing people to rush into the streets.

A bridge collapsed in the port city of Guayaquil.

In Manta, the airport was closed after the control tower was damaged.

Glas says the national guard has been mobilized to maintain public order.

A tsunami warning has been issued, but there were no immediate reports of waves.

President Rafael Correa was not in Ecuador at the time of the quake. He was in Rome after attending a Vatican conference Friday. He said the earliest he could return to Ecuador is Sunday afternoon.

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