(Bloomberg) -- A powerful earthquake struck coastal Ecuador on Saturday, killing at least 12 people, according to the presidential press office.

The quake hit at a depth of about 66 kilometers and had a magnitude of 6.8, the US Geological Survey said on its website. The Ecuadorian government put the magnitude at 6.5. 

Eleven people were killed in the province of El Oro, about 50 kilometers south of Guayaquil, while one died in neighboring Azuay region, according to the press office. A number of houses were destroyed and various people are being treated in hospital for injuries. The government has set up an emergency operations committee to coordinate aid to the affected area.

Earlier, the government said the Esmeraldas oil pipeline to the capital Quito was briefly suspended, while workers were evacuated as a precaution from a coastal liquefied natural gas plant and two terminals. There were also blackouts in some areas. Some people were still tramped under the rubble, the government added.

Ecuador is on the so-called ring of fire around the Pacific and is the regular site of earthquakes. The most deadly recent quake was in 2016, when over 600 people died. 

Social media postings showed a collapsed building in the coastal town of Machala, according to a video on Twitter. 

Another building was damaged further inland in the city of Cuenca, where part of the facade fell onto a car.


(Updates death toll starting in the first paragraph.)

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