QUITO- A strong earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck off the northwest Pacific coast of Ecuador late on Saturday, causing "considerable damage" near the epicenter as well as in the commercial hub of Guayaquil, the government said.
Confused residents in the capital Quito streamed into the streets and authorities warned of strong waves on the Andean nation's coast.
"I was in my house watching a movie and everything started to shake. I ran out into the street and now I don't know what's going to happen," said Lorena Cazares, 36, a telecommunications worker in Quito.
Social media pictures showed a collapsed bridge in Guayaquil and a collapsed tower at an airport in the city of Manta.
"There is considerable damage in the area of the epicenter and also as far away as places like the city of Guayaquil," the Geophysics Institute said in a bulletin, but gave no details.
It said the quake struck at around 8:00 p.m. (0100 GMT) at a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles).