Deadly earthquake below Quito, Ecuador – 3 fatalities

Last update: August 18, 2014 at 10:49 am by By

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Update August 18 10:38 UTC : Situation in Quito so far
There are at least 2,620 reports of damaged buildings/homes with 5 of them being total loss
75 people are still in shelters
The magnitude 4.0 aftershock on Sunday caused two additional landslides (one in route Guayllabamba-Oyacoto and one in route Collas)


Update August 14, 07:35 UTC : As already said yesterday, a lot of conflicting reports were being published in Ecuador. The government (by means of José Serrano, Minister of the Interior) has now reported that not 4 but 3 people lost their lives during the August 12 earthquake (1 child and 2 workers). The 4th person initially to be taught buried below the rocks, appeared to be alive and kicking.
The government is now supporting a campaign to learn Ecuadorians cope with earthquakes. What to do before, during and after an earthquake. We think that such “earthquake lessons” should be mandatory in every school and get refreshment courses every year. Additionally, earthquake drills should be organized at least once a year.


Update 21:44 UTC : Unchanged situation. Still 4 official fatalities. Very limited or no information about the missing people.

Update 16:34 UTC : The shaking of this aftershock was called “weak”. The Magnitude was 3.9 and the earthquake (aftershock) triggered some light dust clouds in the Calderon area

Update 16:26 UTC : People are currently reporting that a new aftershock has hit the capital of Ecuador, Quito

Update 16:20 UTC : The Ecuadorian authorities have just reported that a 4th person has unfortunately deceased in the hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

Update 14:50 UTC : Based on the reports in the Ecuadorian media, who themselves are being informed by government services, we at ER call the search and rescue operations fairly chaotic. It would be very useful for the Ecuadorian authorities to have a meeting with their Chinese or Chilean colleagues to improve handling of such events.

Update 14:32 UTC : 45 aftershocks so far in Quito. Only a very limited number where felt by the people.

Update 13:47 UTC : more bad news and still  conflicting reports (various numbers are circulating in Ecuadorian media)
- at least 3 people killed (the body below is the third person who was killed during the earthquake – the Minister of the Interior has confirmed this news just a little while ago)
- at least 2 people buried by the landslide at the quarry
- at least 18 injured

The body being carried away by the rescue personnel is the one from the worker who fell into a pit while building the bridge over the Monjas river. A group of 35 construction workers and management where building a portion of the road in Catequilla (close to Mitad del Mundo or Equator) when the earthquake struck. A landslide of at least 100 cubic meters fell on a number of workers who were working 4 meter above the ground. These people have been buried by the rockfall and have not yet been found. For those among you who can read Spanish, this article gives a very good description of what happened in Cotaquilla

Rescue services are carrying the body of a worker in Catequilla who died after falling into a water pit - Image courtesy and copyright @marychuyglez

Rescue services are carrying the body of a worker in Catequilla who died after falling into a water pit – Image courtesy and copyright @marychuyglez

Update 13:45 UTC : Below the theoretical shaking maps as just published by USGS. Max. shaking following USGS was VI MMI for 12,000 people (strong shaking).

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 15.43.44 Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 15.44.10 Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 15.44.19

Update 10:24 UTC : We are still undecided about the number of people who lost their lives. Some sources, like this one, are talking about 4 people killed and 3 still missing, others are maintaining the 2 officially reported by the government. The situation at the quarry is the reason of these doubts.

Update 08:05 UTC : Ecuador is sleeping right now (at least those who are not scared), so only small pieces of new information will be reported. We expect more news during the early morning hours.

Update 07:55 UTC : The Spanish spoken video below explains very well what happened during the earthquake. As said earlier in this article, the epicenter was located in Collas, the northern outskirts of Quito. The hypocenter or rupture point was at 5 km depth and the earthquake origin was tectonic. The source fault was the Quito transform fault who runs right below the city which makes Quito one of the most dangerous capitals in the world together with locations like Istanbul, Teheran, San Fransisco and others.

Update 07:37 UTC : It is still unclear how many people lost their lives in Ecuador. The 2 people mentioned yesterday were, based on our information, 2 workers in a quarry in Catequilla. The 2 fatalities mentioned in some local news-sites are however a construction worker at a bridge over the Rio Monjas and a 4-year old child who was hit by a bag of rice. The next couple of hours will certainly clarify the situation.
Search and rescue work at the quarry in Catequilla has been abandoned during the night (!) and will be restarted in the early morning hours.

Image courtesy and copyright @roadgerman

Image courtesy and copyright @roadgerman


Update 23:02 UTC : President Correa from Ecuador regrets the fatalities but also told the press that they were working at an illegal quarry

Huge amounts of shaking dust have been blown in the air - Image courtesy @fcalispa

Huge amounts of shaking dust have been blown in the air – Image courtesy @fcalispa

Update 22:52 UTC : A TV report from Infogamatv Ecuador (Spanish)

Update 22:20 UTC : Quito escaped once more through the eye of the needle. Besides  some limited damage (cracks in walls and landslides) and the unfortunate landslide who killed 2 people in the quarry, there are no reports of serious damage in the city. ER fears that Quito might become another Haiti when a shallow M7 would hit the city.  Lets see this earthquake as a general exercise for a potential bigger one, make building more earthquake resistant (especially the poor people are living in vulnerable houses build against fairly steep hills)

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 00.31.28

Barrios in Quito (vulnerable houses were mainly the poorer people are living)

Update 22:07 UTC : We have decreased the number of fatalities again to 2 (from 3) as we could not get enough evidence of the 3th person killed while working in a pit at road works. The following hours will clarify this.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 23.45.58

Update 21:56 UTC : The number of injured people has increased to 18 – the 3th fatality hasn’t been confirmed officially so far

Update 21:55 UTC : People in Quito are mentioning a new aftershock

Update 21:46 UTC : people in Quito are telling that a layer of dust is covering the city (coming from the ground shaking in the hills)

Update 21:44 UTC : A third person is reported killed when he was buried by the ground when he was working in an excavation

Update 21:42 UTC : The Catequilla mine looks not to be a mine but a quarry, which gives more sense to th combination of landslides and victims. Some buildings in Quite show cracked walls. Many landslides around the city (in the hills and along roads). Many roads are closed for traffic.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 23.21.27

Update 21:26 UTC : Still in the Catequilla mine, new reports are talking about 4 people trapped (unclear whether it is in a mine or house) and 8 people injured.

Update 21:16 UTC : at least 2 people killed by landslides in a mine in Catequilla close to the Middle of the World or Equator, Mitad del Mundo as many people will know it.

Update 21:13 UTC : There are 90,000 people living in a radius of only 10 km around the 5 km hypocenter!

Update 21:04 UTC : All Quito tunnels were closed for traffic.

Some experience reports :
* I live on the 4th floor (top floor) of my apartment building and I felt the building shake. Some glass ware fell in the kitchen, but I didn’t notice any damage other than that. Car alarms went off and the shaking lasted for at least 30 seconds with a small after shock.
* As a tourist in Quito , I am still scared . As I was sitting on the couch I felt the couch shake I look around I see the the tables shake around me the doors moved . I didn’t know what to do at that moment because I have never ever felt something like this before . As I look outside I see all the neighbors outside with their family’s member waiting to see what would happened .

Update 20:59 UTC : The Quito International airport was evacuated after the shaking (see image below). IGecuador told newspapers that the epicenter was in #Collas, East of Calderón, Quito

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.59.08

Update 20:55 UTC : El Comercio, a Quito newspaper has unconfirmed reports of collapsed buildings in the in the Northern part of Quito

Update 20:50 UTC : An impressive picture from the Twitter account of @oscargellegosTV Huge clouds of dust can be seen in the hills during the shaking

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.49.17

Update 20:46 UTC : Multiple landslides are reported in the Quito area. We are especially scared for these landslides as poor people have often build their houses agains steep hills , which in case of a landslide can be extremely dangerous.

On this Twitter picture a landslide has covered the river valley !

On this Twitter picture a landslide has covered the river valley !

Update 20:40 UTC : IG Ecuador reports that the Magnitude was measured as 5.2 at a depth of 5 km. 4 minutes later an M4.3 aftershock occurred in the same area.

Update 20:33 UTC : The epicenter of the earthquake seems to be located a little North West of the new Quito Airport. This area is definitely not a volcanic area. There are some volcanoes in the direct vicinity of Quito, but not at this particular location.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.42.41

Update 20:31 UTC : We try to obtain local seismic information but the servers cannot be reached (probably due to too high demand)

Update 20:26 UTC : Earthquakes are a common event in Quito, but most of them are deep subduction earthquakes. They pose little danger to the infrastructure of the city. There is however also a fault line running along the city who generates sometimes very strong to massive earthquakes and this fault line can be extremely dangerous. The, after all, moderate earthquake today is a shallow type, reason why we call it dangerous if below populated areas.

Update 20:22 UTC : USGS now reports a Magnitude of 5.1 but at the extremely dangerous depth of 7.7 km.

Update 20:14 UTC : Earthquake-report.com calls this earthquake dangerous for damage and even injuries. The hills surrounding Quito are the most vulnerable

Update 20:11 UTC : We are not sure yet about the depth of the hypocenter – preliminary data show 20 to 50 km.

Update 20:07 UTC : Preliminary Magnitude 4.9 – Epicenter North of Quito

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.13.49

23 km NE of Quito, Ecuador / pop: 1,399,814 / local time: 14:58:07.2 2014-08-12
705 km SW of Bogotá, Colombia / pop: 7,102,602 / local time: 14:58:07.2 2014-08-12
1011 km S of Panamá, Panama / pop: 408,168 / local time: 14:58:07.2 2014-08-12

23km (14mi) NE of Quito, Ecuador
30km (19mi) WSW of Cayambe, Ecuador
36km (22mi) SSW of Otavalo, Ecuador
48km (30mi) SSW of Atuntaqui, Ecuador
23km (14mi) NE of Quito, Ecuador

Most important Earthquake Data:

Magnitude : 5

Local Time (conversion only below land) : 2014-08-12 14:58:07

GMT/UTC Time : 2014-08-12 19:58:07

Depth (Hypocenter) : 10 km

Depth and Magnitude updates in the list below.

Share your earthquake experience (I Have Felt It) with our readers.
Click on the “I Felt It” button behind the corresponding earthquake. Your earthquake experience is not only important for science, but also for people in the area as well as our global readership.

SRC Location UTC Date/time M D INFO
EMSC Ecuador Aug 12 19:58 5.0 10 MAP I Felt It INFO
  • Ibarra - een zwak schuiven voor een 3 a 7 sec
  • Ibarra - een 3 tot 7 sec in Ibarra stad (oud gedeelte)
  • Quito - light shake and an aftershok
  • Quito - NO damage, but long. Maybe 30 seconds. Hard shaking for a few seconds and then rocking for the rest of the time. We were all up and ready to leave the building. Just felt a smaller after shock.
  • Quito - Stronger than we have ever felt here before.
  • Cayambe - Ran outside
  • Lago San Pablo - 3 story house shook and we heard a rumbling noise lasted maybe 10 seconds
  • Cotacachi - Ran outside - no damage but good 10 seconds of shaking.
  • Cumbaya - Up and down shaking that lasted several seconds. We ran outside. Quite scary.
  • Conocoto - As a tourist in Quito , I am still scared . As I was sitting on the couch I felt the couch shake I look around I see the the tables shake around me the doors moved . I didn't know what to do at that moment because I have never ever felt something like this before . As I look outside I see all the neighbours outside with their family's member waiting to see what would happend .
  • Quito - Strong shaking for a short wile - then moderate shaking. No property damage - no panic seen
  • Quito - Well I was in the computer minding my own business, when suddenly everything started shaking thr computer screen fell on its side ttthankfully slowly and because i have a big table. Some of my mothers decorationd fell to the ground my room that has many things crammed in shelves because im decorating fell it know looks like a ship wreck around 7 minutes after the earthquamke a tiny reprise came. im really afraid im shaking. When i felt the quake i ran outside thankfully my family was outside.
  • Quito - Felt like a really strong wind was shaking our 3-story house for ~30 seconds; walls and windows shook; small after shock.
  • Conocoto - Scary
  • Quito - I live on the 4th floor (top floor) of my apartment building and I felt the building shake. Some glass ware fell in the kitchen, but I didn't notice any damage other than that. Car alarms went off and the shaking lasted for at least 30 seconds with a small after shock.
  • Mitad del Mundo, San Antonio de Pichinch - I thought I was just dizzy. All of a sudden, my wife tells me to run out of the building and to help her with our 3 children- from the third floor. After the first wave, we felt the second wave a few minutes later? maybe 10 minutes later, but it was more like rocking, not like the shaking movement of the first wave. Please pray for us and for the whole world!
  • Quito - I was in 2 floor,and the vase was not down. But I can felt it. The furniture had sound by shacking.
  • Quito - HORRIBLE.
  • Quito - I was working next to the window on the ninth floor of a building when the whole structure started swaying. People in the building next door didn't seem to flinch but with the second shake and seeing people emptying other buildings, I got out.
  • Qquito - Apartment 5th floor....floor/bed/building /curtains shook
  • Ibarra - In 3 story apt building, on 2nd floor, swayed back and forth, for what seemed a long time (30 seconds??) so we stood up and were getting ready to leave the building when it stopped. Long suspended fluorescent light over ping pong table swayed for another three or four minutes AFTER I could no longer feel the swaying when sitting/standing. No cupboards opened, no pictures or knickknacks fell, no neighbors in the street, ie, all that "happened" in our apartment was swaying.
  • Otavalo - I've lived here for over three years. This was the second worst quake I've felt. Had to hold onto something to steady myself and many people ran out of their houses
  • Quito - In the El Jardin Mall, I could see the kiosk light fixtures shaking. Very surreal as I looked around at everyone's reactions.
  • Quito - Could see the building and malls shaking severely..
  • quito - we all ran downstairs when we felt moderate shaking..no damage was there...
  • Cumbaya - 30 seconds back and forth shaking. Nerves a little rattled
  • Metropolitan District Quito - I was inside the MARISCAL SUCRE AIRPORT from Tababela and it was built to support 9 degrees earthquakes
  • Quito - No damage, but several things fell off of the walls.
  • Tabacundo - Slow moving during 20 to 30 seconds. No damage to the little eathouse I was in
  • Quito - Strong shaking, pictures fell off the wall, vase tipped over, books fell out of bookshelf. Strong swaying motions felt. Living on the third floor of a building in northern Quito. Car alarms went off, everyone was outside. Strongest I've felt in my 10 years living here. Various aftershocks, of decreasing strength.
  • Quito - biggest earthquake ive ever felt
  • Quito - I was teaching a class when I felt strong shaking for about 20 seconds. This was followed by a weaker aftershock for about half that time. No property damage.
  • Quito Pichincha - There was a lot of shaking, but no damage. I counted at least 30 by the time the shaking and/or noise stopped.
  • Otavalo - Haven't checked for damage but the light fixtures from the cieling were swinging a lot.
  • Quito - Was at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Cumbaya, the whole university shook for about 5 minutes, afterwards we could see enormous dust clouds rising from further east in the valley (towards the airport). No damage at the university, but two roads from Cumbaya going up to Quito (via Guapulo, Tunel Guayasamin) were temporarily closed due to landslides, falling rock, and obscurity from dust.
  • Quito - No damage, just a little shake
  • Quito - my house was shaking
  • Quito - there was another quake last night around 23.15 local time. it moved our floor and doors.
  • Quito - We were about to go to sleep, it must have been around 10-11pm
  • Quito - Nothing in the kitchen fell but all of the implements hanging above the sink were clanking against each other. I live on the top, third floor and it felt as if the whole building was swaying from side to side. There are some light cracks in the ceiling but they may have been there before...I am renting and have only been here for a short time. My neighbors all came out to check on each other and then everyone went back inside seemingly unfazed.
  • GEOFON Ecuador Aug 12 19:58 4.9 10 MAP I Felt It
    USGS Quito, Ecuador Aug 12 19:58 5.1 5 MAP I Felt It INFO


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    Country where you felt the earthquake
    City/Village where you felt the earthquake
    Street or suburb (area) where you felt the earthquake
    Latitude (area) where you felt the earthquake
    Longitude (area) where you felt the earthquake
    MMI II (Very weak shaking) ?
    People :
    Felt by persons at rest, on upper floors or favorably placed.
    MMI III (Weak shaking) ?
    People :
    Felt indoors; hanging objects may swing, vibration similar to passing of light trucks, duration may be estimated, may not be recognized as an earthquake.
    MMI IV (Light shaking) ?
    People :
    Generally noticed indoors but not outside. Light sleepers may be awakened. Vibration may be likened to the passing of heavy traffic, or to the jolt of a heavy object falling or striking the building.
    Fittings :
    Doors and windows rattle. Glassware and crockery rattle. Liquids in open vessels may be slightly disturbed. Standing motorcars may rock.
    Structures :
    Walls and frames of buildings, and partitions and suspended ceilings in commercial buildings, may be heard to creak.
    MMI V (Moderate shaking) ?
    People :
    Generally felt outside, and by almost everyone indoors. Most sleepers awakened. A few people alarmed.
    Fittings :
    Small unstable objects are displaced or upset. Some glassware and crockery may be broken. Hanging pictures knock against the wall. Open doors may swing. Cupboard doors secured by magnetic catches may open. Pendulum clocks stop, start, or change rate.
    Structures :
    Some large display windows cracked. A few earthenware toilet fixtures cracked.
    MMI VI (Strong shaking) ?
    People Felt by all. People and animals alarmed. Many run outside. Difficulty experienced in walking steadily.
    Fittings :
    Objects fall from shelves. Pictures fall from walls. Some furniture moved on smooth floors, some unsecured free-standing fireplaces moved. Glassware and crockery broken. Very unstable furniture overturned. Small church and school bells ring. Appliances move on bench or table tops. Filing cabinets or "easy glide" drawers may open (or shut).
    Structures :
    Slight damage to buildings with low standard. Some stucco or cement plaster falls. Large display windows broken. Damage to a few weak domestic chimneys, some may fall.
    Environment :
    Trees and bushes shake, or are heard to rustle. Loose material may be dislodged from sloping ground, e.g. existing slides, talus slopes, shingle slides.
    MMI VII (Very strong shaking) ?
    People
    General alarm. Difficulty experienced in standing. Noticed by motorcar drivers who may stop.
    Fittings :
    Large bells ring. Furniture moves on smooth floors, may move on carpeted floors. Substantial damage to fragile contents of buildings.
    Structures :
    Unreinforced stone and brick walls cracked. Low standard buildings cracked with some minor masonry falls. A few instances of damage to buildings of ordinary workmanship. Unbraced parapets, unbraced brick gables, and architectural ornaments fall. Roofing tiles, especially ridge tiles may be dislodged. Many unreinforced domestic chimneys damaged, often falling from roof-line. Water tanks Type I burst. A few instances of damage to brick veneers and plaster or cement-based linings. Unrestrained water cylinders (hot-water cylinders) may move and leak. Some common windows cracked. Suspended ceilings damaged.
    Environment :
    Water made turbid by stirred up mud. Small slides such as falls of sand and gravel banks, and small rock-falls from steep slopes and cuttings. Instances of settlement of unconsolidated or wet, or weak soils. Some fine cracks appear in sloping ground. A few instances of liquefaction (i.e. small water and sand ejections).
    MMI VIII (Severe shaking) ?
    People Alarm may approach panic. Steering of motorcars greatly affected. Structures : Low standard buildings heavily damaged, some collapse. ordinary workmanship buildings damaged, some with partial collapse. Reinforced masonry or concrete buildings damaged in some cases. A few instances of damage to buildings and bridges designed and built to resist earthquakes. Monuments and pre-1976 elevated tanks and factory stacks twisted or brought down. Some pre-1965 infill masonry panels damaged. A few post-1980 brick veneers damaged. Decayed timber piles of houses damaged. Houses not secured to foundations may move. Most unreinforced domestic chimneys damaged, some below roof-line, many brought down. Environment : Cracks appear on steep slopes and in wet ground. Small to moderate slides in roadside cuttings and unsupported excavations. Small water and sand ejections and localized lateral spreading adjacent to streams, canals, lakes, etc.
    MMI IX (Violent shaking) ?
    Structures Many low standard buildings destroyed. Ordinary workmanship buildings heavily damaged, some collapse. Reinforced masonry or concrete buildings damaged, some with partial collapse. Buildings and bridges designed and built to resist earthquakes damaged in some cases, some with flexible frames seriously damaged. Damage or permanent distortion to some buildings and bridges, designed and built to normal use standards. Houses not secured to foundations shifted off. Brick veneers fall and expose frames. Environment : Cracking of ground conspicuous. Landsliding general on steep slopes. Liquefaction effects intensified and more widespread, with large lateral spreading and flow sliding adjacent to streams, canals, lakes, etc.
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