6.7-magnitude earthquake reported in Ecuador

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

ECUADOR -- A powerful 6.7-magnitude earthquake has hit Ecuador near the Pacific coast area where a devastating quake hit a month ago, knocking out power and rattling scared residents in their sleep but otherwise causing only limited damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday that the quake's epicenter was 35 kilometers (21 miles) from the town of Muisne. It struck shortly before 3 a.m. local time and had a shallow depth of 32 kilometers below the earth's surface.

President Rafael Correa, who was meeting with his disaster relief staff, said there was no tsunami alert and called on residents in Quito, where some residents poured into the streets, to return to their homes.

Some previously ravaged homes and buildings suffered more damage but there were no reports of injuries or fatalities. Authorities were working to restore power in affected areas.

"It was a big shake and all of us were scared but there are no major problems at the moment," said Jorge Zambrano, mayor of Manta, one of the áreas hit hardest by last month's devastating quake.

The much larger magnitude 7.8 earthquake on April 16 was Ecuador's worst natural disaster in decades, killing 661 and leaving more than 28,000 people homeless. It has been followed by hundreds of aftershocks, at least five of them including Wednesday's which measured 6.0 or higher on the Richter scale.

Ecuador was already struggling economically before the April disaster. Correa has hiked taxes to fund the recovery but says it will take years to rebuild the beach towns and tourist hubs leveled by the quake.