Posted: 12 August 2010 2236 hrs
WASHINGTON: A strong 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked Ecuador and parts of Peru on Thursday, but its epicentre was deep underground in a remote Amazonian region and only one injury and light damage was reported.
The quake, which experts from the US Geological Survey said hit at 6:54 am (1154 GMT), 175 kilometres southeast of Quito, lasted for about 40 seconds and was felt around the country and in neighbouring Peru.
One person in a southwestern fishing port was injured by a crumbling wall, Ecuador Red Cross spokesman Jorge Arteaga told AFP.
"So far that is the only victim," he said, adding that a handful of buildings including a firehouse had their walls crumble as a result of the quake.
The epicenter of the quake was deep, some 210 kilometres under the Amazonian jungle, which Ecuadoran officials said was the reason for the lack of damage above ground. No tsunami was generated.
The USGS said the nearest urban centre was some 145 kilometres to the west - Ambato - an Ecuadoran city high in the Andes mountains which is home to a volcano of the same name and suffered a devastating quake back in 1949.
The Geophysical Institute of Peru said Thursday's quake was also felt by Peruvians along the border in the Amazonian jungle regions.
Sandro Vaca, an expert from the Geophysical Institute of Ecuador, said no aftershocks had been detected during the morning.
The USGS revised its estimate of the quake's magnitude several times, from 6.9 to 7.2 and then back to a 6.9 before finally settling on 7.1.
Ecuadoran experts first put the quake at 6.9 on the Richter scale before revising the magnitude upwards to 7.2.
The USGS uses the moment magnitude scale, which measures the amount of movement on the underground fault and the area of the fault that ruptured.
Many seismologists now use that system rather than the Richter scale, which measures the size based upon the amount of ground shaking.
According to the USGS, the quake was the largest involving Ecuador since a 7.2-magnitude temblor off the coast in 1998. Ecuador's deadliest was the 6.8-magnitude quake in 1949 in Ambato which killed more than 5,000 people.
The Ecuadoran Andes are part of the Pacific Ring of fire, where most of history's deadliest quakes, tremors and volcanic explosions have occurred.
The weak line in the Earth's crust stretches along the western coast of the Americas and through the island nations of the South Pacific and on through Southeast Asia.