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Strong Earthquakes Strike Ecuador, Japan

A powerful earthquake struck Ecuador Saturday, killing at least 235 people and injuring more than 1,500. The earthquake in the South American country happened after a series of earthquakes struck Japan -- on the other side of the world.

President Rafael Correa was in Rome, Italy when the quake struck. He quickly returned home. He said the city of Pedernales -- in Manabi Province -- is, in his words, destroyed. About 40,000 people live there.

Officials say they believe the number of dead will increase as aid workers reach isolated areas.

The earthquake was felt 170 kilometers away in the capital Quito. People rushed into the streets.

Luis Alberto Otero is a journalist in Quito. He told VOA that “everything moved.” He said, “I had to hold up the TV so it wouldn’t fall."

Otero added that residents of the capital city are used to earthquakes, but he was scared because it lasted a long time.

Earthquakes and aftershocks in Japan

In Japan, a series of earthquakes and aftershocks caused the deaths of at least 41 people in the southern part of the country. Eleven people are missing.

More than 800 people have been hurt since the first earthquake struck on Thursday, causing buildings to collapse. It also caused fires and landslides.

Stronger earthquakes struck Friday and Saturday.

Officials believe people are trapped or buried under collapsed buildings or homes. Strong aftershocks continue to be felt in Kumamoto Prefecture. Rescuers must also deal with harsh weather conditions.

On Sunday, the Japanese government sent 25,000 Self Defense Force troops to help people on the main southern island of Kyushu. The U.S. also sent Marines and supplies to help.

Some small communities cannot be reached, so officials do not have complete damage reports.

About 200,000 people have fled their homes because of the damage. They also fear there will be more quakes or aftershocks. Earthquake experts believe there will be dangerous aftershocks in southern Japan for more than a week.

Car manufacturers Toyota and Nissan, and electronics manufacturer Sony, have closed factories in the area because of the damage. Many large companies had built factories in the area because experts believed it was less likely to have strong earthquakes than other parts of Japan.

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise reported this story. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

aftershock – n. a smaller earthquake that takes place after a larger one

landslide – n. a large mass of rocks and earth that suddenly and quickly moves down the side of a mountain or hill

isolated – adj. separate from others

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