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At Least 41 Dead After Magnitude-7.8 Earthquake Strikes Along Ecuador’s Coast

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A major earthquake hit Ecuador's central coast, killing at least 41 people as it buckled homes and knocked out power hundreds of miles away, authorities said.

Heavy damage is seen in the coastal city of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, after a magnitude-7.8 struck on April 16, 2016. (Credit: Iván Triviño/via CNN)

Heavy damage is seen in the coastal city of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, after a magnitude-7.8 struck on April 16, 2016. (Credit: Iván Triviño/via CNN)

The magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Saturday night, Vice President Jorge Glas said in a televised address.

The number of injured was not available, he said, but the death toll is expected to go up as more information comes in.

A state of emergency is in effect for six provinces, but Glas urged those who left their homes in coastal areas to return because there's no tsunami alert.

Provinces under a state of emergency are Guayas, Manabi, Santo Domingo, Los Rios, Esmeraldas and Galapagos.

Nightlife venues closed

Hours after the earthquake, the nation's soccer federation said it has suspended the remaining championships.

The interior ministry also ordered all nightlife venues closed for the next 72 hours in affected areas.

All mobile operators are allowing free text messages to reach out to loved ones in Manabi and Esmeraldas provinces, the vice president said.

In a race to help residents, Ecuador deployed 10,000 soldiers and 3,500 police officers to the affected areas, he said.

The tremor was centered 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) south-southeast of the coastal town of Muisne, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

It's the deadliest earthquake to hit the nation since March 1987, when a 7.2-magnitude tremblor killed 1,000 people, according to the USGS.

Body recovered

About 300 miles away in Guayaquil, the nation's most populous city, emergency officials recovered one body from the scene of a bridge collapse, police told local media.

Elsewhere in the city of 2 million people, the earthquake left shoppers shaken. Video from a store showed kitchen utensils swinging back and forth as some items tumbled off shelves.

Some areas in the city lost power.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the capital of Quito, 173 kilometers (108 miles) from the epicenter of the earthquake.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the tsunami threat following the earthquake has "mostly passed."

An earlier warning for other nations with coastlines on the Pacific was canceled.

Japan quakes

The deadly earthquake in Ecuador follows two powerful temblors in Japan last week.

A total of 41 people were killed when magnitude-6.2 earthquake jolted the Kyushu region Thursday, followed by a magnitude-7.0 in the same region Saturday, authorities said.