September 29, 2000

Earthquake rattles Ecuador, minor damage reported

                  QUITO, Ecuador (Reuters) -- An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale
                  shook much of Ecuador on Thursday but caused only minor damage and no
                  deaths or injuries, Ecuadorean scientists said on Friday.

                  The quake was felt at 6:23 p.m. (2323 GMT), the Geophysics Institute of the
                  National Polytechnic School said. There was minor damage to some houses and
                  isolated power cuts.

                  In the capital Quito, the tremor prompted Congress to slightly delay a ceremony
                  to decorate visiting Colombian President Andres Pastrana.

                  On Friday officials at the U.S. Earthquake Information Center said the quake had
                  measured 6.6 on the open-ended Richter scale and occurred two hours earlier
                  than the time cited by the Geophysics Institute.

                  The epicenter was 65 miles (104 km) north of Portoviejo, a city near the coast,
                  said Waverly Person, director of the center in Golden, Colorado.

                  Ordinarily, a quake with a magnitude of 6.6 could do serious damage and cause
                  injuries, he said. But the center, operated by the U.S. Geological Service, has not
                  received any reports of damage.

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