Latin America & Caribbean

Ecuador quake rattles Quito, killing four

Rescue workers gather in Catequilla near Quito after a 5.1-magnitude earthquake rattled the Ecuadoran capital and the surrounding area (12 August 2014) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rescue workers rushed to the scene of a landslide at a quarry in Catequilla

At least three people have been killed and eight others injured in Ecuador after a shallow earthquake struck the capital, Quito, and the surrounding areas, the authorities say.

The 5.1 magnitude quake caused buildings to sway and sent people scurrying into the streets.

Quito's main airport suspended operations temporarily as a precaution.

Parts of the city were covered in clouds of dust that formed from shifting earth at nearby quarries.

The three confirmed casualties are two workers and a four-year-old child who was buried underneath falling sacks of rice.

Three people are still missing in a quarry in Catequilla, near Quito, after the quake caused a landslide.

Another landslide engulfed a vehicle on a road north of the city, but the driver escaped unharmed, rescue workers said.

'We could really feel it'

"I was talking on the phone with my daughter and suddenly the line went dead. I thought the house was falling down," Laura Flores, a resident of Quito's northern Carcelen district, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Four people are missing in the Catequilla quarry near Quito after the quake triggered a landslide
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Pan-American Highway was covered in dust following the earthquake
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The 5.1 magnitude quake sent people scurrying on to the streets in the Ecuadorean capital

She said the quake had opened a crack in one wall of her house and caused plates to fall and break.

Teresa Salazar, who works in northern Quito, said they were "all very nervous".

"We could really feel it. The first thing I did was leave (the building) with my colleagues," she told the Reuters news agency.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was centred 23 km (14 miles) northeast of Quito at a depth of 7.7 km (4.8 miles).

Ecuador is prone to earthquakes. It is located along the so-called Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped, seismically turbulent area of the Pacific Ocean.

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