At least 12 people are dead after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Ecuador Saturday, President Guillermo Lasso said.
The earthquake occurred around 12:22 p.m. local time, officials said. A 4.8-magnitude earthquake was also reported around 12:28 p.m., officials said. The centers of both were about 18 miles from Balao, a town located in the coastal province of Guayas, according to Ecuador's seismic institute.
The earthquake was felt in 13 provinces in the South American country, with Guayas, El Oro, Azuay and Chimborazo most affected, authorities said.
Search and rescue operations are ongoing, particularly in the city of Machala in El Oro Province. The number of fatalities could rise amid efforts to find those trapped under rubble, officials said.
Eleven people were confirmed dead in El Oro Province and a 12th person died in Azuay Province, authorities said.
Several residences, including ones along the coast, were reported to have collapsed.
Ecuadorian authorities activated a national operation committee to support those in need.
The strong earthquake activity was also felt in northern Peru. No deaths have been reported there.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.