UPDATES WITH NEW AFTERSHOCK, CORREA COMMENTS, REQUEST FOR TPS IN US
By Senabri Silvestre
SANTO DOMINGO, Dom. Rep. (AA) – At least six people were wounded Wednesday in Ecuador, after two powerful aftershocks in the same area affected by a tremor that last month killed hundreds.
The epicenter of the magnitude-6.7 quake was located 34 kilometers (21 miles) northwest of the town of Rosa Zárate, in the province of Esmeraldas at 2.56 a.m. (GMT0756), according to the United States Geological Survey.
The agency said a second aftershock occurred at 11.46 a.m. (GMT1646) registering a magnitude-6.8 and located 24 kilometers (19.0 miles) northwest of Rosa Zárate.
The shock was felt as far away as cities in Colombia, including Pasto and Tumaco, on the border with Ecuador. No damage has been reported.
Security Minister Cesar Navas said during a press conference that one victim was hurt when a wall collapsed during the first aftershock. The other five were injured as they ran for cover.
“The country is in calm with minor damage and slightly injured. After the evaluation, we decided to deactivate the National Emergency Committee installed immediately after the event”, President Rafael Correa said during a press conference following the first aftershock but after power outages were caused by the second tremor, he said the emergency committee was reactivated.
The tremors were aftershocks of the April 16 quake that killed 660 victims and Correa urged residents to stay calm, but be prepared.
“The country is more prepared than ever to face these kind of events,” he said. “Unfortunately we are facing a very large impact caused by nature, and aftershocks do not stop alarm or concern, but again you have to be calm.”
Residents should sleep peacefully in Quito, Correa said. In Manabí and Esmeralda aftershocks are normal and, he encouraged inhabitants to be prepared by sleeping with flashlights, water and food.
Correa also suspended attendance at school until next Monday.
Ecuador has experienced at least 1,504 aftershocks since last month’s quake, according to Alexandra Alvarado, the director of the country’s Seismology Geophysics agency.
Also Wednesday, Ecuador asked the United States to grant Ecuadoreans who are in the U.S. special permission to remain as the South American country recovers from the April quake.
"I just signed a letter calling on the government of the U.S. to grant TPS protection for Ecuadorean migrants in an irregular situation," Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said during a press conference. He said the designation would apply only to those migrants who are currently on U.S. soil.
Temporary Protected Status is issued by the Department of Homeland and allows foreign nationals to stay in the U.S. during a major crisis in their home countries.
The U.S. currently has designated TPS to nationals from 13 countries including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Earlier this week, the U.S. extended TPS for Honduras and Nicaragua for a devastating hurricane in the region in 1998.