At least 77 people were killed when a major earthquake hit Ecuador’s central coast, buckling homes and knocking out power in a city hundreds of miles away, authorities said.
The magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck on Saturday night, Vice President Jorge Glas said in a televised address.
Nearly 600 people were injured, he said, adding that the death toll is expected to go up as more information comes in.
A state of emergency is in effect for six provinces, but Glas urged those who left their homes in coastal areas to return, as the tsunami alert had been lifted.
Provinces under a state of emergency are Guayas, Manabi, Santo Domingo, Los Rios, Esmeraldas and Galapagos.
Hours after the earthquake, the nation’s soccer federation said it has suspended the remaining matches of the current round of the Ecuadorean championship.
The interior ministry also ordered all nightlife venues in affected areas closed for the next 72 hours.
All mobile operators are allowing free text messages for customers to reach out to loved ones in Manabi and Esmeraldas provinces, the vice president said.
In a race to help residents, Ecuador deployed 10,000 soldiers and 3,500 police officers to the affected areas, he said.
The tremor was centered 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) southeast of the coastal town of Muisne, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
It’s the deadliest earthquake to hit the nation since March 1987, when a 7.2-magnitude tremblor killed 1,000 people, according to the USGS.
About 300 miles away in Guayaquil, the nation’s most populous city, emergency officials recovered one body from the scene of a bridge collapse, police told local media.
Elsewhere in the city of 2 million people, the earthquake left shoppers shaken. Video from a store showed kitchen utensils swinging back and forth as some items tumbled off shelves.
Some areas in the city lost power.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the capital of Quito, 173 kilometers (108 miles) from the epicenter of the earthquake.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the tsunami threat following the earthquake has “mostly passed.”
An earlier warning for other nations with coastlines on the Pacific was canceled.
The deadly earthquake in Ecuador follows two powerful, deadly temblors in Japan last week.