December 19, 2016 / 5:21 PM / 8 months ago

Earthquake along Ecuador's coast kills two, halts refinery

A destroyed hotel is seen after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook Ecuador's Pacific coast early on Monday, in Atacames, Ecuador, December 19, 2016.Ricardo Landeta

QUITO (Reuters) - A 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook Ecuador's Pacific coast early on Monday, killing at least two people, injuring 15 others and halting production at the Esmeraldas oil refinery, officials said.

The country's geological institute recorded the quake off the coast of Atacames in Esmeraldas province, northwest of Quito, the capital. The quake was followed by 15 lesser-magnitude aftershocks.

President Rafael Correa was meeting with local officials in the area, which earlier this year was devastated by a 7.8-magnitude quake that killed about 670 people, displaced thousands and caused millions of dollars in damage.

"We regret that a 75-year-old woman suffered a heart attack because of the quake," National Risk Management Secretary Susana Duenas told local radio. There were no immediate details on the second person killed.

The Esmeraldas refinery, which has a 110,000-barrel-per-day capacity, was halted as a precaution, Pedro Merizalde, head of state oil company Petroecuador, told Reuters.

Merizalde said refinery infrastructure would be checked over and that the stoppage would last about two days.

Authorities said three hotels in the area, a popular tourist destination, were destroyed, and other buildings sustained substantial damage.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Dan Grebler and Lisa Von Ahn

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