BELGRADE – At least 77 people have lost their lives in Ecuador following a strong earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale that struck off the northwest Pacific coast late on Saturday.

According to the El Telegrafo newspaper, 16 people were killed in the city of Portoviejo, 10 died in the city of Manta and two others became victims of the quake in the Guayas province.

Tremors were recorded at 11:58 p.m. UTC time (02:58 MSK). According to the USGS, the epicenter of the quake was 17 miles away from the coastal town of Muisne and just over 100 miles away from the capital Quito.

Glas also reportedly announced the state of emergency throughout the country in connection with the natural disaster.