FAQ #74 – What About EARTHQUAKES In Ecuador?

Earthquakes in Ecuador are a common occurrence due to its location on the Ring of Fire. However, most quakes are small and barely noticeable, and the bigger ones typically only occur once every 20 to 30 years.

The Ring of Fire is a seismically active region that follows the western coast of South America, Central America and North America before it heads west to the eastern coast of Asia and then south to New Zealand. Earthquakes and volcanoes are common throughout this region where nearly 2 billion people live.

Ecuador’s last major earthquake occured in 2016. It was a 7.8 on the Richter Scale and killed 663 people. Most of the structural damage was in the region around Manta and Portoviejo, and north past Bahía de Caráquez where the epicenter was located, although it was felt all the way in Guayaquil and even Cuenca.

Prior to 2016, the last major earthquake in Ecuador occured in 1987 in the Amazon region and the Quito area. It claimed 5,000 lives.

When damage and deaths occur during these earthquakes, sadly, most of it is confined to low income areas where housing isn’t built to withstand a major quake. The homes are simple cinder block or wood construction without steel reinforcement so they often collapse very quickly, leaving no time for escape.

The newer construction condos and homes are built to modern earthquake standards with steel rebar so they only sustained cosmetic damage like cracks and broken windows during the 2016 quake.

We felt several earthquakes in Cuenca, Olón and now in Manta. They’re a bit scary when they happen because there’s no way to know how big they will be, but we live in a new building and it’s really solid so we feel safe here.

Having grown up in tornado alley in Kansas (JP) and Chicago (Amelia), earthquakes are new to us, but they’re just another reminder that Mother Nature is in charge. Most people on our little planet either live in an earthquake zone, a hurricane zone, tornado, volcano, tsunami, fire, flood, drought or some other equally dangerous area.

There is no escaping Mother Nature and her wrath. The best we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

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